Sunday, October 6, 2013

Diabetic Alzheimer’s Patient Released from Hospice Care and Nursing Home

If you think all people in hospice care never leave alive, you don’t know jack about Raynell. My diabetic hospice patient with dementia, Raynell shared a room with four other patients at the nursing home. Her fourth roommate was an imaginary admirer named Robert, whom she loved like the devil loves holy water. Conversing with Raynell required that I drop to the floor periodically and search for Robert under her bed. This was preceded by her screaming, “Get him! He’s going under the bed!” after he (affectionately?) pinched her swollen and tingling diabetic legs. It’s love, remember? But one day, she surprised me with talk about leaving hospice care and the nursing home:

Raynell requested my assistance by saying, “I was wondering if you could help me find another apartment. I’ve been thinking about looking for a new place to stay, maybe a place closer to where I used to live. This apartment building is too noisy. Just close your eyes and listen to all the talking, buzzers, and everything. People come into my place without even knocking. They just walk right in and go through my closet and drawers. It’s not right. Three ladies even moved in with me when I wasn’t looking. Now, I can’t get them out.”

“Whoa! That’s a surprise! I didn’t know you wanted to leave here. Are you sure moving is the best thing to do while you’re not feeling well?”

“Lately, I’m feeling much better. I need a change. Even Robert had to leave, so you know it’s bad. But I’m very glad about that. He’s gone to live in California. I don’t think he’ll be coming back again.”

“A lot sure has happened since I visited you last week. You never said you wanted to move before or that the other people who live here bothered you so much. All this really shocks me.”

I thought about this interesting conversation a while. It was the first time Raynell ever mentioned moving to an apartment and, even more astonishing, the first time she ever said Robert wasn’t hiding under her bed. Two weeks later, she was released from hospice care because her health really had improved. She moved to another nursing home near her son’s house. I guess Robert knew his time was almost up and decided to leave before he got left.

© Frances Shani Parker

Yes, it’s rare, but patients are released from hospice care. Some live where they are or move to another location. Consider that with various diseases causing the need for hospice care, it is difficult to predict someone’s death with accuracy. Also, receiving quality healthcare and support from others can improve a patient's health. And when an imaginary admirer named Robert knows it’s time to leave, the patient may be moving in that direction, too.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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