September 12, 2006, 12:09 PM<Marcia>
My mother in law is 78 years old, an end stage COPD patient. She has been in and out of the hospital (mostly in) since March with various exacerbations. Approximately 3 weeks ago, she went in yet again and was told it was either Hospice or a ventilator. She chose the ventilator. At the time, she understood from her doctor that post-vent, a nursing facility would be best for her, but now that things are over, she is determined to go home. She lives alone. There are some of us in the area, but we all work. We want to be helpful, assist her in making the best choice for her health, and we also want to be realistic. Can you give us any insight into what we might be able to expect were we to take on the role of care givers? She's had some pretty scary episodes leading up to all of this and we are definitely a little gun shy where in home care is concerned.
September 16, 2006, 08:28 AMGaryMefford
you obviously want the best for your mother in-law. My first suggestion is to get together with those in her support group that are willing to assist in her care should she be able to discharge to home in order to determine the amount of and level of commitment to this major endeavor. If you find you may have an adequate support system to proceed request a family meeting at the hospital with the care team and case manager/social services. This group should be able to give you a clearer picture of what you will need and what you can expect when providing care for your mother in law outside of the hospital. If possible get the physician involved or at least get input from the physician on this question. If after this information gathering it still seems a doable proposition for you all, then with the help of your case manager or social services person locate the home care providers in your area and determine which will work best for you. I have no way of knowing what level of assistance they will be able to provide based on your mother in law's benefits, but some amount should be covered, the rest of her needs will have to be met by family and friends. This is nothing to be taken lightly, can be very stressful on everyone, but can be very worthwhile. There is much to consider, her wishes, the realities of your life needs, the level of commitment from all involved, and much more. In my experience at home with loving committed care givers is much better than a nursing facility. It is easy to underestimate the amount of time and effort that will be required. Good luck with what ever you decide.