It’s something we often don’t want to think about- our parents getting older. But for many only children, like Shelley Bull, caring for aging parents falls on them. With the help of the Palliative Care team at Pullman Regional Hospital, Bull and her parents have gained the skills, support, and resources they need to continue to live independently.
Shelley Bull and her parents are neighbors. Her stepdad is chronically ill, and her mom has early-stage dementia. “It’s been a lot to manage on top of a full-time job,” admits Bull. “My parents' primary care physicians are wonderful, but I was in need of more time-consuming support than they can offer in their capacities.” Bull turned to the Palliative Care team to help coordinate and manage the care of both parents, each with different medical needs.
Caring for aging individuals can truly be one of those situations where you don’t know what you don’t know. “I get emotional thinking about how much this team has helped us,” says a tearful Bull. “They’ve been instrumental in helping us get hearing aids, a wheelchair, a wheelchair ramp for my parents’ home- just so many different things that I wouldn’t have thought of or didn’t know where to start.” Bull’s father receives VA benefits, which can be tricky to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with the system; the Palliative Care team helped coordinate his care and provide access to resources he can benefit from.
Not only does the Palliative Care team assess patients’ goals and quality of life, they also make recommendations to help life be easier at home. “The team made suggestions for things I could set up in my parents’ home to help them day-to-day. They recommended I purchase a digital clock that not only displays the time, but also the day of the week, date, and weather. This has helped my mom so much with understanding where she is and what point of the day she’s at,” recalls Bull.
A component of Palliative Care also involves support and resources for family members. “The team gave me information about a 6-week webinar workshop to develop skills and strategies to care for those with dementia,” says Bull. “This was extremely helpful- I learned different ways to speak to and explain things to my mom in ways she can understand and contextualize.”
“I really just want others to know there is light at the end of the tunnel,” says Bull. “The Palliative Care team changed our lives. My step dad may not have made it to today without their help.”
If you or someone you love could benefit from Palliative Care services at Pullman Regional Hospital, ask your primary care provider for a referral today.