Our Mother's Story
This is the story of our mother's hastened and wrongful death on December 9, 2017. We are sharing our story with the public to help prevent others from experiencing the same horrific events that we experienced, due to the immoral and illegal actions taken by ______ hospice (a very well-known multi-state hospice) to end our mother's life prematurely.
Our mother had been diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disease known as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy in September, 2012. It had progressed slowly, to the point where she was unable to speak or move without assistance, but she was totally alert and understood everything we said and did for her. She was able to communicate with a sigh, grunt, or by squeezing our hands in answer to "yes" or "no" questions.
By 2017, she had round-the-clock caregivers, since my sister, Carol, and I were no longer able to provide her care without assistance. I had retired six years ago and spent every day with her and for the past year, I came back at night to make sure she was comfortable and content before going to bed.
Carol worked part-time and was there every afternoon to help in any way she could. Our two other sisters worked full-time and chose not to spend much time with her after work or on weekends. One of these two sisters had the medical Power of Attorney (POA) for our mother. I was the one who cared for her and communicated with her the most. There was much friction among us over our mother's care.
Although our mother was in this condition, Carol and I brought quality to her life. She had a very good appetite and enjoyed her favorite foods that we brought to her. We watched TV together, talked to her, read current events, provided comfort with heat and massages, and used deep breathing techniques with her for relaxation and stress reduction.
She enjoyed listening to country music while I did physical therapy and range of motion exercises with her. Although our mother was unable to speak or move, she was able to laugh, and seeing her laugh when we told her something funny was our greatest joy.
She also loved seeing her only grandson when he visited her. Her eyes were always focused on him as he was very special to her. She loved sitting on her porch with us on sunny days, listening to the birds chirp. We did our best to bring enjoyment and comfort into her daily life.
It became clear that there were two schools of thought regarding our mother's care. Carol and I felt that the best care should be given and that our mother should live with dignity. Our other two sisters distanced themselves from her as the POA, our sister, had once advised us to do. They were not concerned with her daily life or how she was cared for at all. Both sisters, especially our sister, the POA, considered our care to be interference!
On November 5, 2017, Carol and I administered a suppository to our mother because she had not had a bowel movement for six days. As a punishment for the routine and appropriate care we provided for our mother, our two sisters locked Carol and me out of our mother's house.
Our two sisters were well aware of our mother's failure to have a bowel movement for six days, but chose to do nothing. After we were locked out of her house, they left my mother alone with a brand new caregiver, who did not know her or how to care for her, because her regular caregiver was on vacation. Carol and I were not allowed to have any contact with our mother! She was a prisoner in her own home and no one was there to monitor her care or lack of care.
Consequently, on Sunday afternoon, November 12, 2017 after one week during which we were prevented from speaking to her by any means our mother developed a very serious urinary tract infection and was taken to the hospital. At that time, the doctor at the hospital said that our mother was severely dehydrated, her kidneys were shutting down, and she was "a very sick woman."
Upon her admission to the hospital, the hospital physician suggested hospice and the POA agreed to admit our mother to hospice care. The POA did not notify Carol or me about our mother's condition and hospitalization until the next evening (Monday) via text message.
After receiving the text message, Carol and I rushed to the hospital and upon our arrival, we spoke to our mom. According to the nurse on duty and to everyone's surprise, she opened her eyes for the first time since she had been admitted. It was obvious that no one had expected this!
Our mom began to eat and drink, became stronger, and her kidneys began functioning. After a few days, the hospital doctor was still pushing for hospice care in the hospital, but the POA seemed to hesitate because our mom had been eating and drinking. The POA then asked a hospice-at-home admitting nurse, G____, to speak to Carol and me.
The hospice nurse explained to us that there are "two levels" of hospice care. She stated that the first level compares to Emergency Room care at home, which was the one that best suited our mother. It would be to prevent her from returning to the hospital. She mentioned that a "comfort pack" containing medications would be provided that could be used if necessary. Carol asked if morphine was included and the nurse said, "No."
Our mother was discharged on Saturday evening, November 18, 2017. The POA allowed Carol and me to come to our mother's house after the previous "lock-out." When we arrived, our mother was sitting in her lift chair, eating and drinking as before, with the assistance of her regular caregiver who had returned from vacation. There was another hospice nurse there, K___, who explained the hospice services and stated that there was morphine in the comfort pack. It was then that we realized that the nurse at the hospital had lied to us!
K___ also explained that our mother would be given large doses of Tylenol, in the form of suppositories, for pain. Carol questioned the large doses of Tylenol and the morphine but received no satisfactory answers. Therefore, on Sunday morning, November 19th, Carol called the hospice for clarification because of the lies and the hospice's failure to answer our questions. She spoke with M___, the nurse on duty.
Carol was assured that every time a nurse came to see our mother, her vital signs would be taken. She was also assured that all appropriate "care" would be given. She was told that nothing would be done without the agreement of all family members.
Because our mother was eating and drinking and doing much better, Carol felt more comfortable having our mother cared for by the hospice. Why should she have had any doubt? She was told by the nurse, M___ that nothing "unethical" or "illegal" would ever be done.
The next day, Monday, when Carol arrived at our mother's house after work at approximately 1 pm, there were a number of people from the hospice in the house. The social worker sought Carol out to see if she had questions. Carol felt that the social worker had been informed of her call from the previous day, which she had been told was confidential. She believes the social worker was told to talk to her to make sure she was in agreement with the hospice "plan". Carol told her that she had no questions.
On Monday evening, November 20th, I discovered that G___, the hospice admitting nurse, had reported back to the POA what she had interpreted as Carol and I being "on board" with hospice, although she had never told us that she was acting on the POA's behalf and would be reporting anything back to her. She had totally misrepresented herself to us!
A few days later, I called G___ directly and told her that she had misinformed Carol and me and also misrepresented herself to us. She stated that she had never explained hospice as having two levels and that she had never stated there was no morphine in the comfort pack! She lied again! It is very clear that the lies had begun from the very first contact with the hospice.
The week went on with our mother eating and drinking. On November 23, Thanksgiving Day, our mother ate breakfast, but did not eat anything else that day. That evening, I brought her a piece of pumpkin pie and she ate half of it.
The next day, November 24, she did not eat breakfast. That afternoon, at 2:30, our mom's lunchtime, D___, a different hospice nurse, arrived like a steamroller. At that time I had to leave due to an appointment, but Carol remained.
D___ did not take any vital signs. She talked loudly about our mother in front of her as if she weren't in the room! She looked at our mom and said that she could no longer eat because she "might aspirate." The POA and our other sister whole-heartedly agreed that the food should be taken away.
Carol said, "You're taking away her food? Why? She ate last night!" The nurse said, "Today is a new day." and "You don't want her to choke, do you?"
Carol told her that our mom had been at risk to aspirate for years, but had been taught by a speech pathologist how to recover quickly when choking and our mom was still able to do this. Carol argued to no avail. The starvation had begun! Our mother was still being given liquid by a syringe, but she was not taking much.
Also at this same visit, a sedative medication in pill form (Ativan), an over-the-bed tray table (used to place food, medications, and other items used in caring for a patient), and oxygen had been ordered, things we thought our mother could not use or did not need. She was never given the Ativan to our knowledge and the table was never used! It was left in the living room!
We now believe that the oxygen was to be used once the morphine was administered and that the hospice's plan with the POA was to end our mother's life quickly and unnaturally.
On the morning of November 28, 2017, Tuesday, our mother had taken six swallows of liquid and then choked. She came out of it but the caregiver did not give her any more. The POA called D___, the hospice nurse about this matter. When she arrived, she checked our mother's heart and lungs for the first time. She said her heart was strong and her lungs were clear!
Then the nurse proceeded to take away all liquids by syringe and said, she "might aspirate" and "die of pneumonia!" When the nurse saw that Carol and I did not agree with this, she said a swallow test could be done and a doctor could come to check our mother, but in the meantime, no liquid would be given. She stated that she would set this up with the approval of her supervisor. She told Carol and me to reach out to her at any time with any questions or concerns.
Twenty minutes after she left, I realized that we needed to continue liquids to prevent dehydration. I called D___ with my concern and had to leave a voicemail message.
She called me back, stating that she had spoken with her supervisor, and said, "Deprivation is not the protocol of hospice!" and "You can give her thickened liquids with a syringe," with the knowledge that it was a risk, and to proceed in a cautious manner, all of which I was aware and had been doing for years.
I told her that I would do that, but I was certain that the POA would consider this to be interference and would call the police as she had done in the past. D___ told me that she would call the POA to explain what she had discussed with me. She would also have her supervisor call the POA, and then get back to me before I gave my mother any fluid.
I waited for her call, but she never called back. I called the office and the person I spoke with told me that D___ was probably with a patient and that she would return my call. I waited, but I never received a call back.
I called after hours and J___, the nurse on-call, answered. I explained the situation and she said that she would try to reach D___ or her supervisor and then call me back. J___ did call me back and told me that she was unable to reach either of them.
She also told me that food and drink should not have been withheld from our mother because that is deprivation. She advised me that it was ultimately my decision, but that if she were in my situation, she would give her own mother some fluid.
I gave the drink to my mother. She took some of the liquid without any difficulty and didn't choke. Our mother's regular caregiver (who had been hired by the POA) informed the POA that I had done this. We later learned that the POA called Adult Protective Services for the Elderly and filed a complaint against me for giving my mother a drink!
I left that night with no incident and unaware of the POA's complaint. The next morning no one from the hospice returned any of my calls from the evening before. I called the supervisor, and I was told that she would be in a meeting until 3:00 p.m. It became clear that the hospice nurse and her supervisor were avoiding me. They wanted the starvation and dehydration to continue.
I again called the supervisor after 3:00 p.m. and I was told that she was unavailable. I then asked to speak to someone in charge and I was finally allowed to speak with the supervisor. She told me that there would be a meeting on Thursday, November 30th, with the Protective Services worker, the hospice team, the other two sisters, and Carol and me, to create a plan to administer fluids. All of the lies and avoidance of the hospice were now very clear to me.
The result of the meeting was that the hospice continued to dehydrate and starve our mother all with the POA's (our sister's) agreement. No swallow test was done, no doctor came to see our mother, no food or drink was given. This nationally known hospice does act unethically and illegally!
From November 24, 2017, onward, Carol and I watched as our mother was dehydrated, starved, and drugged to death as we protested, but could do nothing to stop it. Only then did we realize why all the pain medication was needed starving and dehydrating someone to death is painful! We realized that the POA, the hospital doctor, and the hospice had decided that our mother did not have enough quality of life to justify continuing to care for her and that at age 92, she had lived "a long life."
Because our mother was helpless, they conspired to end her life by deprivation, contrary to her and our religious beliefs. Our mother had attended Mass every Sunday before her illness prevented her from doing so. They deprived our mother of the time that God had intended for her to live.
On Saturday, December 2, 2017, we had a priest come to administer the sacrament of the "Anointing of the Sick." Our mother was totally aware of the priest's visit and prayers, as she had been aware throughout this whole ordeal.
On Monday, December 4, 2017, the hospice nurse, D___, arrived in the afternoon. She proceeded to teach our two sisters how to administer the morphine. We heard the POA ask when they should begin to administer it, and D___ answered "in about a week." She also said that this would be her last visit. Obviously, her mission had been accomplished!
On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, we began to see changes in our mother, and we believe the morphine had been administered to her. From that point on, it was clear that she was being drugged.
Our mom's breathing became more and more labored from the morphine until that Saturday December 9, 2017 and less than a week since the morphine was begun, at 6:09 p.m. she stopped breathing completely.
We now know that she was starved and dehydrated and then drugged with morphine so that she would no longer be a burden to the POA or be the cause of any further expense for the health care system. We are heartbroken and will never be the same. We still cannot believe that this could happen.
We tell our story, as painful as it is, so that others may learn from this and protect their loved ones.
In many hospices, patients are made to choke by sedating them and then giving them fluids or food when they are not sitting upright or fully awake. Then, families are told not to give any food or water because the patient "might choke." That is a death sentence if no other method of providing food and water is used. It is clear that staff may mislead family members who would never wish to cause harm, but only realize later that it was all a ploy with the intent to end the patient's life!
It is noteworthy that the hospice nurse, D___, said that she would not be visiting again once the morphine was begun. She knew that the patient would die soon! This patient did not die from the condition she had. She was eating and drinking and aware of her surroundings. Nevertheless, she died.
We need to realize that the hospice industry's trade organization, the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, astoundingly is actually the legal successor to the Euthanasia Society of America and that it trains the trainers of many hospice staff throughout America. See the Euthanasia to Hospice Timeline at:
Family members need to be aware that in every health care setting, we need to verify what is being said, because we are the patient's advocates and protectors. Health care may be "care," but it also may be aggressively hostile to life treatment that actually ends the life of the patient. These accounts are shared with you so that you will be prepared for the lies and deceptions of many staff when they manipulate the patient and family so that death occurs.
Permission is granted to share these articles with others, to print them, or post them on other websites so long as credit is given to the author and Hospice Patients Alliance with a link to this original page.
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