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01 March 2012


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I have some old homemaking manuals; I wonder if they have sickroom chapters.


These are excellent points.

My mother convalesced at my home recently -- nothing life threatening, though it seemed almost so at the time. However, for the first five days of her illness, she was in the hospital when I believe she really could have been at my house. Most of the day she lay quiet and bored in bed; once a day the doctor would look at her for about five minutes; the nurses came in every few hours to fluff pillows and take vitals. These were all things I could have done, and would have been happy to do, at far less cost than the hospital charged.

I like the idea of a home convalescence movement.


It's not something that should be over-romanticized; caring for sick people is difficult and stressful (as the old homemaking manuals make clear). But that is almost as much an argument *for* in-home care by loved ones as *against* it.

I think the analogy to homebirth is apt, because that's also something that should not be over-romanticized and is also something that is obviously not for everyone (but just as obviously could be for more people than is currently accepted).


Do you guys not have home health nurses/ district nurses there? Here when we discharge someone from the hospital and they are not at their usual level of functioning we have several options, the most extreme being to send them to a temporary rehabilitation (not in the drugs sense) center where there are nurses and physical therapists but not doctors. Otherwise they come home and we talk with the patient and family to figure what kind of support is needed. Sometimes the family is able and willing to do it all, and sometimes there is no family so nurses and nurse aides will need to provide all the help, but it's usually a mix.

Often we have family members who help while the patient is at the hospital - typically parents helping a half-grown child or one spouse helping the other with a bath or with meals.

Laying out the dead is something else though - I'm sure family participation is more frequent when someone dies at home, but I've never had someone even want to be there when we do it.


I'm honestly not sure what is available because I've never had cause to need it. When my mother was dying in 2003 we never got a chance to discuss -- she passed away about 90 minutes before our appointment to talk with hospice.

(Probably intentionally, if you ask me -- she didn't want anything to do with hospice, though she never articulated her reasons to me.)

I suspect that, like so many things, what's available through government social services is a patchwork across the various US states and sometimes cities, and that insurance coverage is also variable in what it does and doesn't cover.


I like this idea. And yet it strikes me that for many families it would be virtually impossible without a major economic shift. The biggest problem is that there are so many fewer homemakers today than there were when those old homemaking manuals were written. I feel it profoundly as a stay at home mother. We live in a neighborhood that was built in the fifties. Many of our neighbors are still the original residents. All the neighbors of that generation know each other and I have observed that they are in and out of each other's houses all day long. I get a glimpse of what it must have been like when they were all young mothers raising their families. I bet their kids were in and out of each others' houses all day long too. There are other young families on our block too but I don't know if there are any other stay at hoe moms. Certainly there is no network or support structure. Caring for a sick relative would have been much more realistic an option with neighbors who are there to help, with extended family living either nearby or in the same household. These days households like ours with stay at home mothers or McArdle's with work-at-home couples are the exception. I'd suspect that the majority double-income households can't afford to have one spouse take off weeks or months to care for a convalescent parent.

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