‘In the End, It’s All About Family’
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‘In the End, It’s All About Family’

Cathy Marcangelo may know just as well as anyone how hospice helps not only the patient, but the patient’s family. Several of her family members have received hospice with Care Dimensions over the past decade.

In 2013, her aunt Barbara had hospice at home. The following year, her uncle Anthony also received hospice at home.

Anthony had been in business with his older brother, Joseph (Barbara’s husband), and they lived in Lowell. In November of 2015, Joseph received a late diagnosis of Lewy body dementia. Three months later, he became extremely agitated, and his health declined quickly. Seeing the toll the disease was taking on Joseph and his family, Cathy suggested her cousins explore the Kaplan Family Hospice House as an option for Joseph’s end-of-life care. She knew the care at the Kaplan House was exceptional, not only for patients, but also for family members and loved ones.

“Transferring my uncle to the Kaplan Family Hospice House was the best decision we could have made for all involved as it allowed us to be family members, not caregivers,” said Cathy. “He received exceptional care and was treated with dignity and respect. I remember visiting him there for the first time. He was bathed, shaved, and looked comfortable. It was important for the family that he was respected. My mother and his children were so grateful.

“We rotated our visits around the clock,” Cathy continued. “It was soothing for him to have a family member by his side. He no longer needed medication for agitation. The staff honored his and our family’s wishes. He was relaxed and comfortable, and he died peacefully, just as he wanted.”

Hospice helps another family member

After seeing the care her uncle received, Cathy immediately knew that Care Dimensions’ hospice services would benefit her brother-in-law, Michael, of Chelmsford. He had been healthy and still working part-time as a corporate executive at 77 years old when diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic duct cancer in the spring of 2023. Three years earlier, Michael’s wife died of cancer in a hospital; Michael knew from that experience what he did and did not want for his end-of-life journey. Cathy’s son, Mike, and his uncle Michael were very close. Mike said his uncle was used to being in control and wanted to remain so until the very end.

“My uncle wanted to be at home as long as possible, be free from pain, and die with dignity. The care and assistance from Care Dimensions allowed him to do that, and the support from his Care Dimensions nurse and social worker gave him peace of mind,” said Mike.

When his pain became unmanageable at home, Michael was transferred to the Care Dimensions Hospice House in Lincoln, where his pain was well managed, and he experienced a level of calmness. “My uncle was more peaceful than I’d ever seen him. He closed his eyes, went to sleep, and died early the next morning,” Mike recalled. “We can’t say enough about his extraordinary hospice team who knew how to care for him and keep his pain under control.”

Hospice is a gift

Cathy said the expert hospice care given to her loved ones while honoring their end-of-life wishes has been a gift to her and her entire family.

“In the end, it’s all about family,” said Cathy. “There are times you just need to be part of the family and deal with ongoing grief and everything that goes with a loved one’s end-of-life journey. Hospice—especially during my uncles’ and my brother-in-law’s final days—allowed us to do that. Hospice is a gift you give your loved one, but it’s also a gift you give yourself.”

 

Care Dimensions is a nonprofit organization that is committed to providing the very best end-of-life care with dignity and respect. Your generosity helps make this a reality for all our patients and families. Please consider donating now.

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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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