Topic: Hospice care has begun-Dad's experiences so far...
This week marks the beginning of dad's hospice care in the nursing home. Although we had discussed the possibility of hospice weeks ago, his mental status has deteriorated to the point where I don't think he understands he has actually begun the program. I met his hospice social worker yesterday, and she was able to engage dad in limited conversation, and he was able to share some of his fears and anger regarding his illness. Because I am so close to the situation, it is sometimes hard for me to be a witness to the progression of the cancer, so I felt the burden has been lifted a bit by having her come and talk with him. She was very helpful to both me and my dad, and will be available 24 hours if we need her.
Dad has not yet experienced any pain related to his cancer. His main issues right now are fatigue, weakness, lack of strength, confinement to bed or wheelchair, and his disorientation and confusion. He wants to "get out of here" and "how can they treat people this way" (I think he is referring to the fact that he is in adult diapers and foley line). Other than his immediate family members, I've seen a significant drop in the number of other visitors. I think it's true that many of his friends and relatives, once you mention hospice, don't know how to react to the fact that he won't be with us much longer, so they stay away. At least that's my impression.
While dad is fairly alert, hospice will have volunteers come in and offer pet therapy and perhaps someone to converse with him about his favorite passion - gardening. "Comfort touch" therapy was also suggested as a way to calm him (there is a technical name, which escapes me).
I feel relieved at this point that there is a second team of caregivers, besides the nursing home staff, to care for him. Although the nursing home team has been responsive to his needs, they are very busy with other residents, and it is nice for him to be able to receive some one-on-one care.