In 2013, my paternal grandfather was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. At the beginning of 2015 he stopped the chemo treatments, and later on in the spring he was diagnosed with atrial defibrillation. My grandpa’s health steadily declined until earlier this summer he was admitted into hospice care.
Because of his rapidly decreasing health, my younger sister (going into her senior year of high school) and I decided to give up our summer plans of her going to do a semester of school at Stanford, and my internship in New York City. We both decided that we much rather take care of our grandpa. We made sure to be out at his house everyday at 9am, and wouldn't leave until the evening. One of my great aunts came out to help as well (she’s a retired professor of nursing) and after the realization was made of the true state of his health, many other relatives and friends began making their trek from San Francisco, CA to Cincinnati, OH.
As much help as it was to have so many hands, it became a struggle of who was well-versed enough in his daily care to be left with him when other things needed to be attended to outside the house. This combined with the sheer amount of things that needed to be done to ensure his health and safety, made it hard to maintain a high level of care. It was clear when my great aunt would leave, she was very nervous about my grandpa getting all the medication and other daily care he needed.
After taking extensive, meticulous notes I managed to create a care journal for my grandpa. It combined an explanation of how to do everything he could need in one day with a checklist for all his medication, and a log of medicine that could be taken as needed. This helped to make sure that whomever was left with my grandpa would be able to take care of any of his possible needs. I would adjust it and update it as his medicine and needs changed.
My grandpa recently passed on July 3rd, but I like to think that getting everything organized maximized the quality of his care in his last few days.
For Christmas, I decided to make a magazine for my dad and aunt in memory of their father. I reached out to my other family members and collected their favorite stories about my grandpa, who we'd lost over the summer.
I tried to use a similar color palette as the care journal, since it was used by the majority of my family members.