By Barbara L’Amoreaux
Pam and Steve are a couple who are part of our hospice service. We never use identifying information about our clients in Caring with Confidence, but this case is a bit different, and Pam and Steve are their real names, and this is their real story.
Steve was diagnosed with ALS five years ago. It’s a devastating diagnosis, but they take it one day at a time with grace and good humor. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy road; ALS progressively fatal disease, and more than 90 percent of ALS patients die within 5 years of diagnosis.
By Maggie Vescovich, SLP
“She chews and chews and chews-then spits out the food!”
“I make him his favorite foods, but he just holds them in his mouth. Eventually, with a lot of reminders, he swallows. It can take an hour, or more, for him to finish a meal.”
“It’s almost like he has forgotten how to swallow.”
“She’ll have a great appetite one day, then not eat or drink much the next day.”
These are common complaints I hear from caregivers when their loved ones are experiencing difficulty swallowing due to a change or worsening mental status, or decreased cognition.
What’s the connection? Put simply, swallowing is not automatic until the food or liquid get to the very back of the throat, and the swallow reflex is triggered. Up to that time, from when the forkful of food is placed between the lips and the swallow reflex is triggered—each of us gets to determine what we do with it when it’s in our mouths. For those with decreased cognition, the act of eating can become complicated, and a tug of war between caregivers and their loved ones. Read more
Few of us ever consider that we might have to write someone’s obituary, or that someone will one day write ours.
When the day comes, and you are the designate writer, where do you start? I wrote an overly long obituary last fall for my father, but I really felt like it took that many words to summarize a complicated, intelligent, modest man who lived 88 years on this earth. And yes, it cost a fortune to run the obituary in the local paper (who knew you had to pay for this?), but even if we hadn’t published the obituary, the resulting essay was worthy of saving, and sharing. Read more
By Valerie Hartman, RN, CMT, CR, Complementary Therapy Nurse
A month ago the Caring with Confidence team got together for a brainstorming session over lunch. We reviewed past blog posts, discussed topics of interest to hospice caregivers for the upcoming year. To date, the most popular Caring with Confidence blog post was written on The Use of Biblical Essential Oils in Hospice.
Aromatherapy is gaining ground as a complementary healthcare approach and it is a natural solution to easing mild symptoms, as well as promoting comfort and dignity in hospice caregiving.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of expressed plant oils for human and animal health benefits. Read more