Memory Books Contribute to Personalized Care in Hospice


When dad was in the hospital I felt he was not seen as a total person – just a patient. I wanted to bring in pictures of him but there wasn’t any place to put them. In the hospice there was a nice piece of furniture that held not only his clothing, a small refrigerator and a television, but also had many shelves for personal items.

I brought in many of dad’s favorite pictures. I had pictures of mom and dad together, pictures of dad with his brothers in their military uniforms from World War II, etc. In addition, I brought in many of the memory books I had made for mom and dad over the years.

I set the memory books on the shelves, open to pictures of dad also. I also had calendars with pictures of mom and dad that were set up on those shelves. I had them there to make the room feel like home to dad and to us as well.

Soon I realized that all of dad’s caregivers – his doctor, his nurses, his nurses’ aides, etc. had sat down in dad’s room and read his books. Even the social worker knew about dad’s life from reading his memory books.

The doctor told me he thought it was wonderful how they were all able to get to know dad better through the pictures and especially the memory books. The social worker realized that dad was proud to be a US Marine (“once a Marine, always a Marine”). When the Vietnam Veteran called to say he was coming to bring dad a quilt, she told him dad was a Marine, and the veteran volunteer brought dad a quilt specifically made for a Marine.

The wonderful thing about hospice is that all of the caregivers were dedicated to just a few patients. The same caregivers saw dad each day and they got to know him and our family. I believe these memory books were a significant help in allowing dad’s caregivers to get to know him as a person. Even though dad was unable to speak by the time he arrived in hospice, the caregivers all talked to him and talked about the life he had lived and his family as they saw it in the memory books.

So, even though I have written about the importance of memory books before, I want to reiterate how they contributed to dad’s personalized care during his last illness. Now those same books are ours to review and remember the ones who was so important in our lives.

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About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
This entry was posted in Caregiving, death and dying, Elder Care, Eldercare, Family, Hospice, Memory Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Memory Books Contribute to Personalized Care in Hospice

  1. boomer98053 says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about the benefits of memory books received by staff who care for a person. It’s so important that they have a full understanding of the patient; that the patient had another life entirely prior to getting to that stage in their life. Lori, your father made such an impression on his end-of-life carers. How delightful.

  2. jmgoyder says:

    They are trying to get this happening at Anthony’s nursing home.

  3. escapade01 says:

    Quite delightful indeed.

  4. I did something similar at my mom’s nursing home; above her bed I posted an array of photos from the past…all the way back to her papa as a young man, her 9 siblings, up to the present day with every new arrival in our family. It sound obvious, doesn’t it…but I was the first one to do it, and soon other families followed suit with similar displays. And as you point out, as much as it was for my mom’s enjoyment, the wall also communicated details of my mom’s life to the staff, no small issue. Similarly, the head nurse told me that her monthly “Resident of the Month” column in her newsletter was designed to remind her staff of the accomplishments of their patients…these were real people– not just a name of a chart. Kudos to you for reminding people of the things we can do to increase comfort and compassion. Best, Hallie

  5. I am just catching up on my reading…I stopped reading anyone’s posts (and my own writing as well)during the holidays and am just now resuming; I just discovered the news of your dad’s death. I am so deeply sorry that I didn’t know and reach out to you at the time. I hope the above comment doesn’t seem cold or uncaring. Somehow I didn’t even focus on the word Hospice. I am reading your posts now in chronological order. Tears are falling. I am so sorry. Hallie

  6. Joy Johnston says:

    Love this! Memory books are not just for family, but for those taking care of our loved ones.

  7. dementedgirl says:

    We made MIL a “This is Your Life” photo album a couple of years ago, which she loved – hope we can put it to such good use when a similar time comes for her in the future…

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