As Mom, Dad, the Crankee Yankee and I go through these precious days of spending time with my mom, who is dying of metastatic breast cancer, we find we talk of many things. Most of them have nothing to do with death and dying, but ways of helping people, bringing people together, the world in general and also ideas about making things easier on Hospice patients and their caregivers.
Since the end of August, Mom can no longer walk, but Dad or I or the Hospice nurses can get her around the house on her “sit down” walker. Other than that, she spends a lot of time in bed, resting, dozing, enjoying visitors and callers, as well as keeping her mind sharp.
Over time, we started putting together a small basket of items that Mom likes to have near her; tissues, lip balm, phone, pen, her calendar, and so on. When her “Lemon Sorbet” room spray ran out, I looked downtown for a replacement, and found a delightful citrus-y scented spray. Mom loved it, so we added “room spray” to the list of “comforters.” When you are in one room for long periods of time, the air can get stale, so a spritz of a good-smelling room spray is a welcome change.
So, after careful consideration, this is what we came up with for the contents of Mom’s own “comfort basket:”
- room spray
- wet wipes
- eye drops
- lip balm
- daily pocket calendar and a pen
- white board and dry-erase pen
- breath mints
- eye glass case and cleaning cloth
- tooth floss
- hand cream
- sanitizing gel
…and of course, the phone and newly-installed “*panic button” are close at hand. All these things are in a small easy-to-reach basket. Of course, depending on the person, the contents of a comfort basket will vary, but these are the things that Mom prefers.
The white board (her idea) has become an essential part of Mom’s day. In a hospital room, there is always a white board stating that day’s date, the name of the assigned nurse and doctor, meal-time, etc. Mom likes having her daily information up on the board so that she can glance up at any time to see what each day will bring.
As you may or may not know, often meds will affect the patient’s memory or thought process. So having that white board and calendar are essential links to life for some patients. For Mom, this is her lifeline to the world, and it’s important to respect what she (or any person in her situation) finds comfortable and convenient.
So, just one more idea born of this time in Mom’s life. We hope that you find it helpful and something to make someone in Mom’s situation a bit more happy and comfortable.
*Local “first alert” type system just in case.