Jolean Sloan cared for her husband, Richard, for seven years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. In August, she realized it had become too much to do herself. At the end of his life, her husband of 54 years was bedridden and confused. She managed to keep him home, as she'd always planned, but it happened because she asked for help.
"I thought I could take care of my husband myself. I had no idea how hard it would be — the little nitty gritties you don't think about. ... My daughter got us with Hospice for Utah and I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the aides, the nurse, the help," she says. Richard was able to stay in their Clinton home until he died earlier this month.
Jack Batt knew the moment his wife, Melba, moved to CareSource's residential hospice that he'd be okay there if he ever needed that kind of care. Eight years later, he sits companionably by his daughter Kathy Salazar, looking out the window at the pasture that runs along the building's back, his "little slice of heaven" where three foxes are friendly with the horses, and talks about dying.
He has advanced prostate cancer that spread, but thanks to hospice care, no pain. At 87, his mind is clear and "I'm not scared at all," he says. "I'm ready to go join Melba. I've been fasting and praying about it."
"We believe in life after death," says Salazar, stroking her dad's cheek. "I would rather see him go when he's lucid and not in pain."
Editor's Note: Advance directive and end-of-life planning is an important and neglected topic. Families often shy away and when crisis comes, relatives are left trying to guess what someone would have wanted. This week, Deseret Media Companies have joined a coalition to raise awareness about the issue, in conjunction with passage of SCR2, which asks Utahns to consider making their own decisions, appointing an agent and having those tricky conversations. The Deseret News and KSL TV will be running stories on the subject all week.
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