Posted by: karljfeller | January 27, 2015

C is for Cookie… a cookie thief.

A year ago, I had a patient that was mad at life. She could no longer live in her own home and had been separated from her boyfriend, now living 6 states apart. Not able to sleep in a normal bed, she had slept in a recliner for months.

When we signed her on to our hospice services, we had a hospital bed delivered the same day. In our minds, this would be perfect for her. She would finally be able to sleep in a bed again. When it got delivered though, you would have thought we were destroying her room. She didn’t want it. She about threw out the delivery company.

The staff at her assisted living had told me that she was usually pretty unhappy in general. As I sat and talked with her that day, I realized it wasn’t the bed, it wasn’t the people in the assisted living, she was unhappy because her choices were gone. As the months went by, I would visit from time to time and offer to sing a song or two. Usually I could get her to smile, at least a little bit.

With so many of her choices gone at this stage of her life, we as a staff at East Valley Hospice offered her opportunities to be included in more decisions about her care. What were her goals? Even though the bed was there, she slept in her chair instead, and that was ok. She got to choose.Cookie_Monster

Checking with the staff at her assisted living facility from time to time I found out that my patient was a little more cheerful. After digging more, I found out that one of the other residents had been sneaking into the food pantry to get cookies. He would wait until the caregivers had stepped out of the room for a minute, wheel himself into the pantry to grab a few cookies and before anyone noticed, he would bring them over to our patient. There in the living room, they would enjoy an afternoon treat.

That little tradition of theirs was special to them. It brought her joy, comfort, independence. The guy who was bringing her cookies was so proud to do something for a friend. Did he love the cookies too? The crumbs on his lap were enough to prove that. But more importantly, they were able to make memories together, to find a moment of joy in their independence.

For our senior friends, it’s hard to help them navigate a season when so many choices are gone. Watch for opportunities, big and small to give the choices. I got to know my patient’s cookie monster friend, even encouraged the caregivers to leave the pantry door open a little more often.

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