Hospice, Grief, and the Well-Dressed Guy

He was dressed for success.

His suit was charcoal gray, the shirt the color of a spring sky, and the tie was snappy. The shoes were shined into mirrors. I figured, since this was my hospice’s grief support group that met mid-day (for those 55 and over), that he was coming from work.

Or maybe the fellow was retired and chose to wear his “Sunday best.” My father, long after his final days of full-time work, frequently donned a nice shirt and cinched up one of the ties he’d worn years before. Until his cruel dementia stole nearly everything about him, Dad might add a sports jacket or color-coordinated sweater to complete the look.

Some guys, office bound or happily retired, like to maintain appearances.

My new group member did.

It was the first session. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

To Hospice Caregivers: You Don’t Have to be Perfect

People say it all the time . . . That’s perfect!

  • How’d the apple pie she made taste? It was perfect!
  • Did you have a good time on the date? Everything went perfectly!
  • Did you like that new restaurant? What a perfect place!

Not long ago, during a hospice team meeting, we reviewed a family’s struggle to care for a dying loved one. While hospice isn’t present 24/7 in the home, we are always on-call to answer questions from the patient’s caregivers . . . their sons, daughters, spouses, parents and friends. Most concerns can be answered on the phone, others may need a visit from hospice staff. This particular family kept calling, early and often. They wanted to be sure medications were properly given. They were troubled when their loved seemed too drowsy or didn’t eat as much as expected. Several family members debated about giving too much or too little of a particular medication.

None of their worries, and none of their debates, created serious problems for the hospice patient; she likely never knew how many calls were made to clarify decisions. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

(No Way I’m) Using Methadone for Hospice

Methadone should be lumped with the “opioid crisis,” right?

If asked about methadone before working in hospice, one image would have immediately surfaced for me: people lined up at a clinic, anxiously awaiting their dose.

The image included a rundown neighborhood, a mix of scraggly men and weary women angling around a building. There would also be protestors with handmade signs (“Keep drugs away from our children!”). And maybe—if depicted by a Hollywood film—a black and white police cruiser would patrol the street. Those crowding the clinic are lowlifes, bums, and losers, addicted to a terrifying opiate like heroin, but now feeding their vile habits with a “safe,” prescribed substitute.

Grim, eh?

What comes to your mind when you consider methadone?

Maybe nothing.

But if you do have a thought, it probably is based on a movie. It’s a story on the mean streets of New York with old Al Pacino or young Ryan Gosling as a loner cop. If your thoughts weren’t from a film, then it was a 60 Minutes piece, a Law & Order rerun, or a hazy recollection when you were lost in the rundown side of chilly Milwaukee or sunburned Miami searching for a college roommate’s address. Regardless of the source of your fragmented memory, you “know” about methadone: it’s for drug addicts. Sure, people may need a physician’s prescription to get a dose, but it’s not much different than the various illegal or over-prescribed drugs that are currently wrecking far too many lives. Methadone should be lumped with the “opioid crisis,” right? Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather