Going Home

This subject has surfaced within my last few shifts so I think it's time to write about it. As you know the people I take care of are very old and on their last legs with the exception of my mother who is 78 but may as well be 98. I have heard them talk about "going home". As a care giver you want to put your charges at ease and make them feel comfortable at all times, that's our job. When I hear this conversation my instinct is to remind them that they are home but that isn't what they are talking about. They are talking about going home to the BIG house in the sky. It's a metaphor but when you hear it you know that they are preparing to die. It may take a while. It doesn't mean that they have a week left or even 2 months or way more but it means that they are mentally preparing themselves for the Grand Exit. In the scheme of life they are preparing to let go. Our job as care givers is to make that as easy for them as possible so without encouraging them we accept their words and work with them. It does no good to try to convince them that they are already home. Instead we accept their consciousness and agree that yes you'll be home soon enough that people are waiting for you. You'll be happy once you get there etc. My mother was talking about going home. She's in a nursing home where the care is excellent but the environment not so much. She's in a room with two other people that is dank n' dour. She hates where she is living. She has always needed her environment to be beautiful and full of the things she loves. At the moment she has none of that. She is ready to "go home" because anywhere has to be better. It breaks my heart to see her this way, so unhappy, but as she prepares to accept her future I know there will be tell tale signs that the end is near. She will slowly stop eating, that's a big one. The nursing home does their best to feed her but you can't make someone eat enough to sustain themselves if they don't want to. She will eventually just want to sleep all day, never getting up or at least fussing about it regularly. A nursing home is trained to take care of people and so they will. Another woman I take care of was talking about "going home". Funny enough she has stopped eating dinner and mostly only eats breakfast and lunch. She is constantly out of breath and can't walk etc. I wouldn't have even given her to this Christmas but her family was just here and WOW did she perk up. Having family visit is always wonderfully stimulating but short lived. Kind of like a sugar high. Another woman I take care of is 101. She has talked about going home. She doesn't eat dinner anymore and only accepts breakfast and lunch. Maybe that's a pattern. I also take care of a man in hospice and all though he hasn't talked about "going home" yet I am expecting he will at some point or maybe he won't, I don't know, we'll have to wait and see. I guess maybe there really is no pattern to death. It's as unique as each person. I will keep you posted.

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