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Extending and Improving the Quality of Aleen's Life

Aleen celebrated her 97th birthday eating lobster, shrimp, and key lime pie with family all around. Her daughter Michelle couldn't help but be amazed and thankful.

Michelle tenderly recalls that after the family sang "Happy Birthday" to Aleen, she "blew kisses to all of us. It was really a God moment, and hospice gave us that gift. I truly believe hospice extended my mother's life. If it hadn't been for hospice, she would have died a year and half ago."

Aleen lived independently at home until she was 94, when she fell and broke her arm and some bones in her feet, then suffered a stroke while in the hospital. A series of infections and illnesses followed, and Aleen went back and forth between the hospital and a nursing home as her health steadily declined. Michelle's husband, Randy, is a hospice chaplain, and Michelle thought hospice could help her mother. Aleen began receiving hospice care in the nursing home.

"The hospice doctor determined that my mom shouldn't be on Parkinson's medicine, and once they took her off that, her demeanor went from night to day," said Michelle. "She went from someone who was drugged and out of it to someone who could clearly communicate, knew what she wanted to eat, and knew what she wanted to do.”

“We really appreciate the hospice team and doctors; we work together as a team," said Michelle. "When your loved one is up and down and so sick with the dying process, it's like a roller coaster. The great thing is, the hospice team really is there to support the family and to help you get through those days and moments."

“The hospice team really is there to support the family and to help you get through those days and moments."

Although bedridden, Aleen enjoys life, says Michelle. "She has a massage therapist and a social worker and they give her a good quality of life," said Michelle. "She's happy!" Through a pet therapy program, a black lab that is trained to work with hospice patients comes into Aleen's room and puts her head and paws on the bed so Aleen can pet her. "Mother loves all kinds of animals," said Michelle.

When Michelle's older sister, Sandy Aldrich—who lives in a facility for seniors—told fellow tenants about her mother receiving hospice care, they recoiled. "They said, 'Oh, they take your doctors and medicine away,'" said Michelle, "but that's not true. [The hospice team] figures out what medication you do and don't need. You do keep your doctors, and you get hospice doctors too. And you also get all of this loving care.”

"When I tell people my mom is in hospice, they say ‘I'm so sorry,'" said Michelle. "I say, ‘Don't be sorry. Hospice saved my mom's life.'"

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