Why I care about the work of Caring House — Dana Hodgdon

This continues our series of messages from supporters telling why they care about the work of Caring House.

Why I Care . . .

I have three main reasons why I care.

  • First, it’s because most healthcare facilities are not set up to care for people in their last days. And I have seen that the results can be devastating for everyone involved, the caregiver, the family members and especially the person who is dying. Many of us have noticed this gap, and we have frequently said, “There’s got to be another way to care for people while they are dying here in Southern California.”  We had all been saying this for many years, but it has been the people creating Caring House who’ve actually taken the next step — they’re doing something about it.
  • Second, as a hospice social worker for the last 20 years, it has been my personal joy to see people cared for with respect, dignity, and technical know-how. Cared for so that the final days in a person’s life can be filled with love and meaning. However, there’s another reality. I want to emphasize that it is not the fault of the facilities or caregivers, but I have been occasionally horrified to see patients cared for by people who do not understand or have the skill set to tend to the needs of a person who is dying.  To treat a person who is dying the same way you would a person who does not have a terminal illness does nothing but inflict suffering and hardship.  Forcing a person to eat and drink when their body is shutting down does nothing but go against the natural flow of a dying person’s organic and spiritual process.  A shift in the goals and expectations is necessary when transitioning to end-of-life care so the person’s stage in life is honored. By welcoming residents on hospice and respecting their wishes, Caring House will make that shift possible.
  • And third, the toll end of life care can take on the family caregiver is immense, even in the best conditions.  Often a dying person is cared for by their equally elderly spouse.  This was the case with my mother, who was cared for by my father.  We had hospice, and they did a wonderful job of making sure my father had what he needed, knowledge and equipment.  Because hospice does not provide caregivers, however, the day-to-day care was still left up to my 85-year-old father.  The care really almost did him in!  I know that my mother did not want to die in a hospital.  If Caring House had been available then, it would have made a big difference for my mother and my father.

Shared by Dana Hodgdon, Bereavement Coordinator, Torrance Memorial Hospice, Torrance, California