‘There’s nothing you can do’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 9, 2003

Hospice care isn’t just for the terminally ill, it changes the lives of the living, too.

According to Johnnie Johnson, the daughter of a Cahaba Hospice patient, the care has helped her family.

Johnson’s mother, Cornelia Robinson, has been a patient of Cahaba Hospice since April. According to Charles Bennett, Robinson’s son, a doctor recommended hospice care after Robinson suffered fall in January.

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Before her fall, though, everyone agreed that Robinson was quick on her feet.

Robinson began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease about five years ago but was still active. One day, however, Robinson’s knees gave out and she fell. Doctors attempted physical therapy, but Robinson couldn’t pay attention. &uot;She just couldn’t walk anymore,&uot; Johnson said.

Robinson went to a nursing home for a 21-day stay, but Johnson noted that her mother didn’t stay the entire time. &uot;She was trying to walk, but she couldn’t,&uot; Johnson said.

She added that her mother had osteoporosis. &uot;It takes your body and turns it,&uot; she said. &uot;It eats your body up.&uot;

That’s when a doctor recommended hospice care.

This isn’t the family’s first experience with a hospice. Johnson said a hospice helped her sister before she died. &uot;We’re all going to die,&uot; she said, &uot;but they want to help.&uot;

Bennett agreed. &uot;I’ve never seen so many friendly people in one place,&uot; he said.

Hospices keep stress off the family, Johnson said. They may not be able to halt the death process, &uot;but they can make it a little easier,&uot; she added. &uot;They make everything easier. They pretty much take care of everything.&uot;

For example, Meals on Wheels brings Robinson’s dinners. A nurse comes to the house twice a week, and a nurse’s assistant comes five days a week. Medicine is provided as is a hospital bed and air mattress, which helps with bed sores.

Bennett said his mother recognizes hospice employees and sometimes tries to talk with them. Her words may be short and difficult to understand, but she gives her full attention to the hospice employees and holds their hands.

Cahaba Hospice also ministers to Robinson’s family. Johnson said hospice employees have spoken with the family about her mother’s illness and their expectations. During last week’s visit one employee left an informational sheet about Alzheimer’s disease.

As for the future, Johnson isn’t sure what the next day will bring. &uot;We just take it one day at a time,&uot; she said. &uot;Each day, that’s what you do, each day. And you just thank God for right now.&uot;