Jennifer’s Story

It was our family’s first experience with hospice care. I learned that hospice care is about medical care, but it is also about communication. Compassion. Kindness. Respect. Hospice care is about meeting people where they are and letting them process the information about the end of life in their own way.  Hospice is about dignity and using this time to connect with people you love.  

I remember our family’s time as bittersweet because it meant we were saying goodbye to my dad, but overall, the experience was one of pure love. Below is our hospice story.

My parents were a team. They always presented themselves as a unified front and described any unpleasant experience in the best way possible. My siblings and I often joked that they could have made a living as Shakespearian actors!  

Dad had health issues most of his life with Crohn’s disease and in his later years developed dementia. Mom was a nurse by profession, and she was an expert on his symptoms. She took great care of him.  

As their adult daughter, I was not always aware when dad was having a health crisis.  It was fairly normal to get a phone call from mom saying, “We called the ambulance last night and your dad is in the hospital.”  

I always offered my help. Most of the time they preferred to handle medical situations by themselves.  But dad’s hospital visits were becoming more frequent. Mom was starting to realize that his condition was changing. 

My parents made the decision to move to a senior living facility together. It was a big improvement and they quickly made friends with other residents and the staff. Mom enjoyed the activities and socializing with other residents.  

Dad was less happy with the living arrangements and would often complain about the people, noise, and food to me in our evening phone calls. I later learned that this is called “sundowning” in people with dementia.

The doctor at their senior living facility recommended hospice care for dad to our family.  

I was with mom when we met with the Hospice of Lansing nurse to enroll dad in hospice care. She was so respectful and thorough in gathering information about his health issues and medications. I learned a lot more about dad’s health and was so impressed with the support Hospice of Lansing could provide. My mom was a great resource and had so much knowledge of his medical history.

Dad got wonderful care. I was surprised and so happy to receive updates after each visit from the hospice nurse. I was finally in the loop! Everyone on the Hospice of Lansing team did a great job supporting us and making sure our questions were answered. Hospice of Lansing supported my mom and allowed her to maintain her role as dad’s “nurse” until his very last day.  

I am a social worker and a lot of people I talk to put off making decisions because they fear what they don’t know. They don’t like change. 

I encourage everyone I encounter who is caring for a loved one or facing a serious health diagnosis to reach out to Hospice of Lansing.  

There is no reason to fear hospice care because every choice made during hospice care is made by YOU and YOUR family.  

Get the information. Get answers to your questions.  

Let me say that again. 

Hospice care puts YOU in charge of what happens to you or your loved one. That’s one of the most unexpected gifts of hospice care. 

Jennifer Azar, LMSW