Archive for Statistics

Sudden Death

Don’t hesitate to spend time with that friend or family member whose words and silence and comfort you trust.

Don’t hesitate to spend time with that friend or family member whose words and silence and comfort you trust.

The wife didn’t kiss her husband goodbye . . . since she was in a hurry to leave for the new job. Her commute was now into the city, twice as long as before. But the bigger salary meant their family would have more financial security. Her husband agreed to leave later for his job, first taking one child to daycare and the other to first grade. It would all work out.

Though she called her father every week . . . and knew his daily schedule better than he did—a morning walk to the nearby Starbucks for coffee and pastry; chatting for an hour or three with several of his army buddies; browsing for books at the library; tending to his garden; settling on the couch to play with his cats and (of course) to take a nap; then eating his Meals on Wheels for an early dinner—she hadn’t visited him since Christmas. Read More →

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Can I Give You A Hug?

On most days, her GPS will lie to her about directions at least once before she returns to the hospice office . . .

On most days, her GPS will lie to her about directions at least once before she returns to the hospice office . . .

I listen to her describe the drive into the foothills. The roads twist like curlicue ribbons on a Christmas gift. The addresses are inconsistent, with some numbers faded into invisibility on mailboxes and others haphazardly scrawled on the sides of fences. Every patient’s house can seem like a missing puzzle piece in the isolated foothills east of Fresno. On most days, her GPS will lie to her about directions at least once before she returns to the hospice office. She rarely has a chance for that lunch break she’s required to take. At one front door of a patient, who lives in mobile home with more rust than paint, she is welcomed like the Queen of Sheba. At the next stop, a 10,000-square-foot cabin on steroids built by wealthy retirees, she’s treated like a despised servant. Read More →

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The 35%

Each moment feels like a demolition derby where every car loses.

Each moment in hospice feels like a demolition derby where every car loses.

Of the many hospice statistics that rattle me, 35% is near the top of the list.

Nationally, in all hospices, about 35% of the patients will be served for a week or less. In some cases, much less than a week.

These patients often arrive from a hospital setting, with the family desiring the parent or spouse to die at home. They are frequently cancer patients, and their chemo or radiation treatments were concluded a handful of days before admission. They are old and young. They are male and female. They are alert and comatose. Read More →

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