“Every Hour is Precious”
“Every Hour is Precious”
A few weeks ago my Mom fell and broke her hip. Due to her already diminished mental capacity (late stage dementia) and weakened physical state prior to the fall, I elected to forgo surgery. The picture painted by doctors looked the same whether we operated or not. The upside to surgery was negligible at best while the downsides were significant and highly likely.
Mom is now completely bedridden, no longer speaks, no longer makes eye contact, gives little indication she knows anyone is in the room with her.
Hospice was resumed after a pause in their services late last fall.
Although just three years earlier I navigated the end of life journey with my dad, this is different.
What was my Caregiving role now?
Together with hospice and the facility staff, our goal has become pain management and Mom’s comfort. I visit Mom in her facility daily and for a minimum of an hour each visit.
Why an hour?
It takes almost that long for me to slow down from my normal frantic pace and be fully “in the moment”.
An hour gives me time to play old church hymns and read the Bible to her. The music is the same which my mom provided me during my childhood. It is music and scripture which I know she enjoys and which taps into her deepest, fondest memories.
Since she no longer speaks, an hour gives me plenty of time to read Mom’s body language, to assess her pain and comfort levels. I’ve been able to provide critical feedback to both hospice and the facility staff because I sat in Mom’s room long enough to “see” something.
An hour also gives me time to gain a sense of what’s going on in the facility itself and to interact with staff as well as with other residents. I’ve learned Mom gets regular visitors from other residents which is comforting to me. It is also funny. Because this is a dementia facility, the residents who stop by to say “hi”, immediately forgets that they have stopped by and a few minutes later stops by to say “hi” again. Mom is not alone for any long periods of time whether I’m there or not which is a good thing.
I stated earlier that Mom gives “little indication” of being aware of her surroundings. When I play the hymns and read from the Bible, she smiles ever so slightly and with her eyes still closed she will lean into the sound of my voice a little as if to hear better.
I knew at the beginning of my caregiving journey that it was a terminal one for both my dad and my mom. My goal was to honor them and love them in these their final days and to usher them right up to the shores of heaven. As I did with my Dad several years ago I’ve now told Mom, “It’s okay, you can go home, you’ve earned your rest.”
An hour gives me plenty of time for one more thing; I get to say, "I love you Mom" and "thank-you!"
Like this article? Share on social
Join our mailing list
Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter that includes caregiving tips, news, support and more.