There are a lot of things that people do that are controversial. Go to wars, debate about the choice a woman should have about her body, sending a family member to hospice. I know that sometimes there (at hospice) it would be really hard to maintain a safe environment that has the appropriate care that the individual needs. At hospice that person will receive 24/7 trained care that is supposed to keep the patient happy until death.
Being a volunteer at hospice has taught me several things which I consider important. One of them being that the residents feel lonely, even though they are surrounded by people. The people they are surrounded by are foreign, they are unknown, especially to patients like mine who has dementia. The patients are probably afraid or somewhat scared at this new place that they aren’t used to and that hurts me. The patients are basically by themselves, spending the rest of their days being trapped in a wheelchair, watching something that they don’t really understand but do it anyway because there isn’t much to do. This whole planned death with care idea would work great if all the families that sent the loved one to hospice visited at least once a week. It is not enough to just pay the money for care and be done. Each time I have visited I have never seen a family visit and I go on Saturdays. My patient tells me how her family doesn’t visit much and they do things like sell her house without consulting her first. I get frusturated because just one hour a week doesn’t seem like much to me. I can’t imagine someone being so busy that they cannot take just one flimsy hour to visit a loved one that is set to die soon. If I do ever send my mom or dad to hospice, I would make sure to see them every chance I get because I want their last memories to be with me, and not with a bunch of random people that are there for a job. I don’t know if it is the fear of death that terrifies people, that they might be next in that wheelchair, which stops them from visiting but such an excuse is poor.
What does make me happy is when I see volunteers go and talk to the people, make them feel heard, because as humans that’s the one thing that we struggle to make people feel. Everytime I go and visit my patient, he/she gets excited and just can’t stop himself/herself from cracking a smile. The patient then starts talking about everything from family issues, to whether the carpets she has are doing the room she is in any justice. I listen attentively, because the patient does go from one story to the next midsentence and makes it hard to follow sometimes but my effort does not go unseen. When I am about to leave the patient asks me, “You are going to visit again aren’t you?” I always say yes and see that smile that makes it worthwhile. I think again, how can family members not go and see their grandmother, mother, sister in her last moments before it is too late? I have learned a lot but I don’t know if these things that I have learned make me a more optimistic person when it comes to human nature.