Gloria Cooper - Sanford, MI
"I can't imagine going through what I went through without that kind of help."
Hospice Care was there for Her Father, Mother and Husband - and Her
It's something that nobody wants to go through even once, but 69-year-old Gloria Cooper of Sanford, Mich., had three close family members on end-of-life care – her father, her mother, and most recently, her husband. Each time, MidMichigan Home Care provided invaluable hospice care and grief support to help her and her family through the process.
It started with Cooper's mother, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in December of 2003. The disease progressed rapidly, and she received hospice care during May and June of 2004 until she passed away. After that, Cooper cared for her father for eight years as he grew sicker and weaker. In 2007, before her father passed away, her husband also fell ill and required her constant care. Her husband was in hospice care for the last few years of his life until he, too, passed away in the spring of 2018.
"I did 15 years of family care," Cooper said. As anyone who has cared for a family member for even a short period of time knows, such dedicated care is very time- and energy-consuming to provide and can be a great challenge to the person providing it. A solid support system is essential in order to keep caring for ill family members while still maintaining one's own physical and mental wellness.
Cooper's children were very helpful, but they couldn't provide the round-the-clock care that was needed. They no longer lived at home, and had their own jobs and families to take care of. She knew she would have to depend on someone with the expertise and resources to adequately treat her family. Her family nurse recommended MidMichigan Home Care's hospice program.
For all three of her family members, MidMichigan Home Care provided at-home medical and general assistance as often as was needed, all the way until the end. Nurses came by routinely to check on how their medications were working and to read their vitals, and social workers visited to help get all of their affairs in order. They would even provide housekeeping services to help keep the house clean when Cooper was otherwise busy. Often hospice staff would watch Cooper's father, mother or husband while she ran errands of her own.
"Hospice was a great help in that they came in often enough that I could do grocery shopping, go to a doctor appointment, or get a haircut," Cooper said. "It was just peace of mind that I had the time to take care of myself and do what needed to be done."
The care team from MidMichigan even went above and beyond their regular duties when Cooper needed the extra help. For example, the last winter before her husband died was very cold with lots of snow. A pastor from MidMichigan Health was coming to provide emotional and spiritual counseling to them when he noticed that their entryways were snowed in. While he was there, he shoveled their entire deck and wheelchair ramp so Cooper and her husband could easily get out of the house.
Each of Cooper's family members also thought highly of the care team that helped them in their final days. "My parents enjoyed all of the people who came from hospice," she said. "My husband was a talker. The nurses, social workers and pastor would sit and listen to him."
The care that Cooper received didn't end with the death of her loved ones, either. She continued to receive emotional support and counseling as long as she needed afterwards, as well. In the September following her husband's passing, Cooper found herself in a rough spot. She had kept busy over the summer with her children and grandchildren but after the school year started, the loneliness of being a widow fully kicked in.
Though uncertain at first, Cooper decided to start going to a grief support group at MidMichigan Health for women who have lost their husbands. "All these experiences I had being a widow were perfectly normal," she said, learning from the other women that she wasn't alone in what she was feeling. She now attends meetings with this group twice a month.
Though a very difficult experience to go through, MidMichigan Home Care was able to ease the way for Cooper, her parents and her husband. "I don't know what I would've done without them," she said. "I can't imagine going through what I went through without that kind of help."
MidMichigan Home Care provides a variety of health-related products and services that help individuals remain independent at home. Home care can help patients avoid admission to a hospital or nursing home, providing care in the comfort of their homes. Those who would like more information about MidMichigan Home Care may visit www.midmichigan.org/homecare.