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Family Matters: Devoted Siblings Thankful for Mom’s Hospice Care

Taking care of her family was Eva Griffen’s life mission.

Born in 1925, she was one of eight children of Italian immigrants who lived in Somerville, Mass. In 1948, she married Francis Griffen, and they raised two sons and a daughter in Brookline.

“She poured everything into family – for her children, her husband, her parents, and her siblings,” recalls her eldest son, Ron Griffen, who describes Eva as “a giving, generous, and loving person who enjoyed interacting with others.”

Eva was also strong-willed and independent. After her husband died in 2000, she remained in their senior living residence in Revere, where she had many friends. Although she never had a driver’s license, she took cabs to appointments and did her own grocery shopping.

Ron recalls that at age 94, Eva began to show signs of depression and expressed fear of becoming sick. Ron and his siblings, Patricia and Stephen, convinced Eva to live for a time with Stephen in Peabody while they paid her rent, which ensured she would have the option to return to her apartment when she was able to do so safely.

Eva’s decline worsened and she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and vascular dementia. Her primary care doctor referred her to a psychiatrist, but her fear of becoming ill grew.  “She was fixated on this thought and couldn’t let go of it,” recalls Ron. “It was rare for her to rest and be quiet.”

After behavioral health hospital stays and therapy were not successful, Eva suffered a mild stroke. Doctors discontinued the therapy and recommended hospice at home with continued medication.

Hospice at home with Care Dimensions

Ron and his siblings remembered a visiting nurse had mentioned hospice – and Care Dimensions specifically – following Eva’s hospitalization for a broken hip a few months earlier. They called Care Dimensions, and Eva was admitted onto hospice in October 2022.

Care Dimensions ordered a hospital bed delivered to Stephen’s house, where Eva was still residing. Eva couldn’t walk due to neuropathy in her legs, and she didn’t like to be moved from bed to wheelchair much. “We could raise the bed, which made it easier for Mom to eat, as we often had to feed her,” Ron notes. An aide came for an hour every Monday through Friday to give personal care to Eva.

Nurse Case Manager Maureen Strout visited several times a week to ensure Eva was comfortable and medications were ordered for delivery. She educated the family about hospice and answered their questions. She remembers Eva as “a delightful lady with a warm smile and a very attentive family.”

Maureen realized that Eva’s end-of-life journey would be hard on the family. She and social worker Melanie Porter frequently made joint visits to support Eva and her children.

“We built a nice rapport with the family and spoke openly about things like advance directives and medications,” Melanie recalls.

Spiritual Counselor Hilary Davis MacNeill’s weekly visits included talking with Eva and praying the rosary with her, providing therapeutic touch, and singing to her. Sometimes Eva would sing along when she was having a good day.

“The chaplain would visit one-on-one with our mom, talk with her, and even play guitar and sing to her!” exclaims Ron. “She also greatly helped us deal with the sadness of our mother’s condition. The emotional and mental health support we received was much appreciated.”

“Eva’s family did a beautiful job helping to bring her life full circle by caring for her with the same tenderness and 24/7 vigilance that she would have had for them as babies,” notes Hilary.

Family grateful for support

Several times, family members called Care Dimensions’ nursing support line for advice or to request help during off-hours. “We’d call – sometimes it was 2 o’clock in the morning – and someone would come out,” recalls Ron. “They’d stay as long as they were needed. Our mom’s hospice team saw me and my siblings as part of their responsibility.”

Eva died peacefully at Stephen’s home in June 2023, following nine months of hospice care. In appreciation for the care Eva and her children received, her family made a generous donation to Care Dimensions.

“Care Dimensions allowed our mother and our family the dignity and support that we needed to face the many challenges during this period of our lives,” says Patricia. “We, as a family, are eternally grateful.”

Care Dimensions thanks the Griffen family for their support.

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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore,  has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in over 100 communities in Massachusetts.

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