“Mom was admitted to the hospital with a serious illness. Although we are both fairly well-educated people we had never heard about this type of problem and were shocked to find out that no surgical or curative procedures exist for it. Mom had long before signed an advanced directive rejecting any artificial life support. After many discussions, the doctor suggested we talk with the hospital social worker who mentioned Montgomery Hospice and Casey House as a possibility.
What a relief for Mom to be transported to Casey House! Casey House has such a homelike atmosphere. We were actually startled by how nice it is. After Mom died, we realized we missed going there because it was so pleasant. The building is architecturally welcoming and there are lovely touches such as the smell of cookies and coffee, dogs for petting, and a harp. The courtyard is lovely. We would go outside and make calls and enjoyed the view and the birds.
At Casey House, we felt welcomed and at home. We could come and go at any time. We were able to treat the Casey House great room as though it was our own den. My siblings were there a lot and we were able to be together very comfortably as a family. Friends came too. The grandchildren were able to play Nintendo on the Casey House TV. Our kids were nervous and anxious about the whole process and we were able to provide pizza for them at the table. That was so reassuring and helpful.
Mom had always enjoyed listening to jazz. At Casey House she wanted to hear her music—which she did, a lot of old Duke Ellington tunes. The second day Mom was at Casey House, the family gathered for her 85thbirthday celebration in her room. We sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her and there was a cupcake with one lit candle. She couldn’t eat but she was happy to have us around her.
The nurses were very attentive and could perceive Mom’s pain in ways we could not. They helped to educate us when we had to make decisions about Mom’s care. At the time Mom was admitted the social worker helped us make tentative long-term plans in case Mom needed to leave Casey House if she stabilized. She was good about making clear to us that Casey House is for very short-term hospice care only. The chaplain helped us connect with clergy. We were pleasantly surprised to find out the staff wanted to take care of the whole family, not just Mom.
At one point on her birthday, Mom and I were alone and I whispered to her, ‘You were a great mom’ and she whispered back, ‘Thank you.’ Those were her last words to me. I never saw her awake again. But that was the perfect way to close out a life-long relationship.
Casey House is all-embracing and all-enveloping. We want to help people learn that Casey House and Montgomery Hospice are there to give people the care they need at the end of life.”