Hospice: A Family Resource in your Community
When Maureen Anderson learned that her mother, Margaret, was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she went from being a daughter to a 24 hour/7 day a week caregiver. Both of their lives immediately changed. Margaret faced an uncertain future with the prospect of losing her independence, while Maureen became her mother’s full time caregiver.
Even with her terminal diagnosis Margaret was determined to maintain her independence. She kept up a rigorous lifestyle or as she put it ‘living life to its fullest.’ This became more and more difficult as her illness progressed until the day came when Margaret realized she could no longer live on her own and she would have to move in with Maureen. After the move, Maureen realized that her mother still had a strong desire to live an independent life but needed special care as her condition deteriorated. That’s when she decided to call Hospice.
“I remember when the hospice worker came to our house to meet my Mom," says Anderson. "She told us all about the programs. Mom wasn’t really sure that she wanted to participate in anything, but we decided to attend a Mindfulness session. We booked in and went to the session the very next week. I will never forget Mom saying to me after the session how she really enjoyed it and from there on in she started to think about participating in other hospice programs. Before I knew it, she had signed up for almost everything Hospice had to offer.”
Margaret began to attend regular mindfulness sessions, peer support groups and experienced a number of complementary therapies, such as reflexology, massage therapy and reiki. As her mother began to grow weaker, she was unable to go to Hospice, so Hospice came to her. A volunteer visitor, having similar interests and values as Margaret, was matched and for the next couple of months, Margaret and her volunteer went shopping, out for coffee and/or for short drives. Not only was this good for Margaret, but it gave Maureen respite for a few hours every week to do daily chores and bring some normalcy back into her life.
“I will never forget the day my Mom and her volunteer went shopping. Mom loved shopping and she was thrilled to be well enough to get out of the house for a few hours. After they left, it hit me that I had time to do whatever I wanted. It was something I was not used to. I was always on the go, doing things for Mom and my family, and now I was being offered time for me. It was a bit difficult to get used to, but I soon realized how important it was to have that time just for me, so when Mom came home, she saw a re-energized person, which made her feel better.”
Maureen was able to access caregiver support programs offered by Hospice to help her on her own journey and to let her know that she was not alone.
“You go through so many different emotional highs and lows, which you cannot show to your loved one or family because they are depending on you to stay strong. It can be very difficult at times, but knowing that there is a place, like Hospice, ready to welcome you with open arms, where you feel safe and secure, where people are there for you, is a tremendous support. Everyone needs to know about Hospice and the wonderful services they provide to caregivers.”
Margaret passed away almost two years after her diagnosis. There is not a day that goes by when Maureen does nothing about her Mom and still misses her deeply. Yet, when she reflects on her Mom’s life, she smiles saying ‘she had a good one.” Her mother’s legacy of living life to its fullest has been instilled in herself and her children. She credits Hospice for being that friend you can turn to whenever you are in need without ever having to worry about being a burden.
“I am so grateful for all the support I received from Hospice. They enhanced my mother’s quality of life and gave me the care and respite I needed. Hospice truly is a place of comfort. I am truly grateful for the staff and volunteers who provided both my mom and me with such excellent care.”
Hospice is a place of comfort and a home of compassion for hundreds of people living with terminal illnesses; their caregivers, families and those grieving the loss of a loved one. The support programs not only focus on the client but the needs of the family. It is this holistic approach to care that allows Hospice to give clients and their families the continual support they need as they travel their journey together.
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*Article submitted by St. Joseph's Hospice.
Publicity and Promotions Specialist
South West Regional Cancer Program
519-685-8500 ext. 71826