volunteer wondering how to make best of last days/weeks

  1. 1
    In honor of my father, today is the anniversary of his death , I've been volunteering at a very small hospice) just sitting with two patients when I can, one in particular. This gentleman is a ward of the state, lost his wife to cancer 12 years ago, and has two sons that rarely visit. He sleeps most of the time, can not vocally speak (But communicates very well with me through nods, lip movement). I feed in mashed food, and or liquids. He also gives me beautiful smiles, winks and blows me kisses! His eyes are rarely open, but he'll open them for me for short moments in time. They are a bit glossy though he can see well enough and they get filmy. His thought process seems very clear. With Hippa I do not know what he is hospice for. He is diabetic and doesn't ever seem to complain of pain. I was dismayed the other day as the staff told me he wasn't eating or drinking much, and for a moment he made those loud gurgly breaths. Gratefully, they went away very quickly AND he ate a large bowl of mashed eggs and an entire carnation protein drink for me.
    I am just a volunteer that provides company. He's been watching the ceiling lately, but I don't think he sees anything special.

    I'd really like advice/tips on anything that could make my visits helpful.
    For instance: Should I encourage him to eat if he's willing when I'm there (or is he likely just eating for me?)
    Should I offer to pray with/for him? whatever his religion?
    Does the film on eyes mean anything?
    should I ask him about what he sees?
    Because he peps up with my visits, they encourage me to wake him, is that useful?
    Just looking for ways to make his last days better than worse. Also, any tips on preparing myself for the worst. I'm not sure if I can manage to sit with him when I see the worst of the signs my dad displayed, but I will try.

    I was blessed to have the last week in hospice to stay at my dad's bedside and hold his hand. He did not talk and was in a lot of pain, and slept much due to the morphine, cancer. So this is a bit different.

    thanks
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    Quote from missingmydad
    In honor of my father, today is the anniversary of his death , I've been volunteering at a very small hospice) just sitting with two patients when I can, one in particular. This gentleman is a ward of the state, lost his wife to cancer 12 years ago, and has two sons that rarely visit. He sleeps most of the time, can not vocally speak (But communicates very well with me through nods, lip movement). I feed in mashed food, and or liquids. He also gives me beautiful smiles, winks and blows me kisses! His eyes are rarely open, but he'll open them for me for short moments in time. They are a bit glossy though he can see well enough and they get filmy. His thought process seems very clear. With Hippa I do not know what he is hospice for. He is diabetic and doesn't ever seem to complain of pain. I was dismayed the other day as the staff told me he wasn't eating or drinking much, and for a moment he made those loud gurgly breaths. Gratefully, they went away very quickly AND he ate a large bowl of mashed eggs and an entire carnation protein drink for me.
    I am just a volunteer that provides company. He's been watching the ceiling lately, but I don't think he sees anything special.

    I'd really like advice/tips on anything that could make my visits helpful.
    For instance: Should I encourage him to eat if he's willing when I'm there (or is he likely just eating for me?)
    Should I offer to pray with/for him? whatever his religion?
    Does the film on eyes mean anything?
    should I ask him about what he sees?
    Because he peps up with my visits, they encourage me to wake him, is that useful?
    Just looking for ways to make his last days better than worse. Also, any tips on preparing myself for the worst. I'm not sure if I can manage to sit with him when I see the worst of the signs my dad displayed, but I will try.

    I was blessed to have the last week in hospice to stay at my dad's bedside and hold his hand. He did not talk and was in a lot of pain, and slept much due to the morphine, cancer. So this is a bit different.

    thanks
    Hmm...the only thing that popped out at me after reading your post is - music. Try bringing in some CD's & play some music for him.

    Beyond that - books on tape, or read the paper/a book with him, or see if you can get a family member to bring some pictures that he might recognize.

    Interesting about HIPAA - as a hospice volunteer, I have some access to patient care records (high level, but I can find out what they're in hospice for, religious beliefs, etc.); wondering why you don't?

    On more specifics - certainly encouraging him to eat is a good thing; can't speak for everyone, but eating sure gives ME pleasure. Just don't force the issue - let him take the lead where possible.

    On prayer - another one of those things that should be documented in the patient care records is religious belief. Never hurts to ask.

    Again - far as what he's seeing - ask. Far as the film on the eyes; usually it's dehydration. Oftentimes meds are administered to reduce mucus buildup in the airways; might ask about eyedrops for his comfort.

    Certainly waking him up to let him know you're there is a good thing - I'm sure he'd prefer knowing that you're there.

    Really, at this stage of the game just being there with him is beneficial - and, if your experiences are anything like mine have been your presence is making an ENORMOUS difference to him.

    As for prepping for the inevitable - to a large extent you already know what to expect, since you've been there. Just remember that, much like with your father this is a very private time for him and his family. You may be allowed to share this time with him - you may not. Don't be offended if you're asked to leave, and don't feel that you haven't done your part if you have to bow out because the emotions get too intense (or whatever) - believe me, you have.

    If you have any other questions, or just want to talk, feel free to send me a private message - if you don't have 15 posts yet, send an email to the administrators & I've no doubt they'll set you up to allow private messaging.

    Blessings,


    ----- Dave
    Patient Care Volunteer


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