Mary Nugara Story

Mary came into the VNA hospice service after her primary care doctor asked her son and daughter-in-law "is it time?". Mary had been diagnosed with dementia five years prior to this visit and was becoming increasingly "fidgety", according to her daughter-in-law, Mary Ann. Mary and her husband, Joe, Sr., had moved in with their son, Joe and his wife, Mary Ann. Mary Ann was the primary caregiver to Mary and Joe, Sr. In addition, Mary Ann had her own health concerns, so as Mary's needs increased, Mary Ann became more concerned with how to care for her in-laws.

Mary Ann and Joe said they had a nice first meeting with the nurse, as she explained everything to them. The nurse told them that hospice care was not "just the end" for Mary, but that it would provide support to Joe and Mary Ann, as well. They said that the education and brochures were invaluable as they learned how to care for someone with advanced dementia who had times of screaming and disrupting the environment at home. Mary Ann admitted that she wanted to "run away" before hospice began caring for Mary. Mary Ann said it was "tremendous" to learn that "Ma was not doing anything wrong", but that the disease was progressing.

Mary Ann and Joe shared that they felt comforted on many levels by the care they received as part of the VNA hospice program. First, the nurse ordering just the right equipment was "better than us doing it ourselves" because they wouldn't know what was needed. There was also comfort provided when the nurse sat down with Joe and Mary Ann and explained to them what to expect in Mary's last hours. They said the information was "spot on". Mary Ann said the aides were the best because she was not able to lift the patient due to her own health limitations. The aides took the time with Mary so all went right with her bathing. Joe said how grateful he was for support, education, and counseling provided by the social worker for Mary Ann. This time spent together helped Mary Ann to gain perspective and the "big picture" of what was going on. They both expressed gratitude for the time the chaplain took to listen to and support Mary Ann during difficult days. They were impressed that the chaplain spent time with Mary, providing presence.

An important consideration for Joe and Mary Ann was the focus of keeping Mary in the home because her husband, Joe, Sr., did not want her moved to a nursing home. He was helped to trust in the hospice team as they came in to work with the family, not instead of the family. Hospice care reinforced to Joe how he thought his mom should be treated: with dignity and patience at home.

Mary Ann said "I'll tell anybody about VNA hospice! They were the best organization to have."

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