Mary Main’s mother-in-law, Dotty, was full of spunk, right up until her last breath.
She loved vibrant clothing, chunky jewelry and speaking her mind.
“Dotty was very curious about people, and she kept everyone on their toes,” Mary said, “even with the color of her hair. One time she’d go blonde, and another day she’d be a redhead.”
Dotty grew up in a large Polish family with six siblings. As a child, she suffered twice from Scarlet Fever, which weakened her heart and led to her diagnosis of chronic heart failure in her early 70s.
“It was hard for the whole family to watch her decline,” Mary said. “She was a parental figure to me.”
However, even as Dotty’s health worsened, her fun-loving and caring personality never wavered.
“You would never leave her house empty-handed,” Mary said. “She was very giving. If she was making a pot of soup, you knew you were leaving with half of it.”
In addition, there was usually a treat or two thrown in for the grandchildren to take home.
When the final months of Dotty’s life were approaching, and it was time to consider comfort care, Mary’s husband, Deric, who is an only child, looked to Mary for guidance.
Mary, the director of community relations at Juniper Village, a personal care residence in Mount Joy, Pa., has both personal and professional experience with end-of-life care. Her community doesn’t offer hospice services, but partners with Masonic Village to provide the service to its residents.
“Hospice gives our residents the chance to stay in the home they’ve chosen, surrounded by their things,” Mary said. “I make the recommendation to family members to consider hospice. Hospice has built relationships with so many of our families, who are appreciative of that extra level of care.”
In 2016, Mary’s grandmother, a Juniper Village resident, received care from Masonic Village Hospice.
“My grandma was 102,” Mary said. “The last grain of sand in her timer just ran out. Hospice was really great with her. Dotty’s situation was a little different, more challenging.”
Regardless, Mary didn’t hesitate in recommending Masonic Village Hospice once again.
Dotty moved to Juniper Village so she could benefit from some extra assistance, and, when the time was right, welcomed Hospice with open arms, upon Mary’s recommendation.
“We had a whole year of ups and downs,” Mary said, “but Hospice made her happy and connected with her on a personal level. The nurses pampered her, and the chaplains prayed with her.”
After Hospice staff became aware of Dotty’s love for theater, they purchased a gift card for the whole family to enjoy a show at a local dinner theater.
“Death is the only common denominator everyone has,” Mary said, “which is why end-of-life care is so important and has come so far. Enough time is built into the process for you to let your guard down. Hospice addresses you and your loved one’s fears, worries and anxieties.”
Mary and Deric specifically appreciated the way Hospice staff communicated among one another about Dotty’s condition.
“No matter who was in the room, we never had to say the same thing twice,” Mary said. “Hospice was a comfortable family-like feel.”
Hospice staff informed Mary and Deric when they believed Dotty’s final hours were approaching and joined them at her bedside to manage Dotty’s symptoms and to be there to answer any questions.
While Mary still enjoys having a working relationship with the Hospice staff she’s grown so close to, Deric has appreciated the grief support check-ins and reading material that is sent to their home.
“When you make a recommendation to a family, it has to be a good one,” Mary said. “I can personally say Hospice sees people through to the end with dignity and with the person’s and family’s wishes in mind.”