Is this hospice nurse getting to personal with my widowed mother?

7 answers | Last updated: Oct 09, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Recently my family lost my dad. Hospice was there and now we have a hospice nurse who is always coming over with her husband to see my mother and asking all kinds of personal questions. "How much land do you have?" and "what are the guns worth?" She even had my mother pay for gas and a dinner for her and her husband. My mother in a town 100 miles away. Is this normal policy? I am concerned how about how personal she is getting. My mother is very vulnerable right now. We are afraid of what she is really after.

Expert Answers

Audrey Wuerl, RN, BSN, PHN, is education coordinator for Hospice of San Joaquin in California. She is also a geriatric trainer for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), which promotes education in geriatric nursing and end-of-life care.

From your description, it sounds like your mother could use some support from you. It is not the normal "follow up" for any hospice to keep in contact with the family of the deceased in the way you describe. Hospice offers bereavement follow up care for up to one year to support families during the grieving process, or through mailed satisfaction surveys. That is what hospice care signifies: caring and support when cure is no longer an option"”for your dad, and now for your mom through bereavement care. What you are describing should never happen.

If you suspect your mother is being taken advantage of, such as someone trying to get money from her, please contact her local County Department of Aging. There are strict rules, and fines and even jail time, for persons who abuse elders. It is called Elder Abuse and can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. Also, please alert the hospice who cared for your dad and let them know what is happening.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Personal questions should never be asked. We had a certified agency that not only asked questios, but they went through personal financial papers when we were not there. Of course the results should be obvious, they did manage to fleece my Mother. After filing a claim, and long investigation, her estate was finally reimbursed.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I'm a senior advocate in the Jacksonville, FL area. I have a fit when one of the home health aides sits down to a meal w/my seniors or accepts ANYTHING from them. Those are grounds for immediate dismissal. It's a slippery slope and frowned upon. We jump through hoops each day to think outside of the box to help keep our seniors safe, healthy, happy, independent and protect them from all of the predators calling, sending mail and showing up. It's one thing for your husband's hospice worker to send a cheery note once in a blue moon, but this is abnormal. She should be working and caring for her other hospice patients, right? Why does she have such an interest in your Mom and how can she possibly have the time? Your question set off all kinds of alarms for me. I'd immediately notify the Hospice agency as well as your state's Elder Care Abuse Hotline. If this woman's intentions are pure, fine. But I'd rather apologize to her than deal with serious theft or fraud issues. By the way, everyone should check the backgrounds of anyone coming into your senior parents home.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I am a volunteer grief counselor and we work with our local hospice to help both during and afterwards. From what you describe, this behavior is completely inappropriate and violates professional boundaries. I agree with the previous postings; please notify Elder Care Abuse Hotline and the Hospice agency that employs this nurse. Your mother is lucky to have you to look out for her; what about those who don't have such an alert, caring relative to watch out for their interests?

A fellow caregiver answered...

I am an administrator for a 150 Bed SNF Nursing Facility. This behavior is not only abnormal but unacceptable. I have seen this type of thing done so many times to elderly individuals, by caregivers, before they have admitted into a facility setting like mine. It starts out w/something small like u are describing and then before u know it,the person has, somehow, worked their way onto the individuals bank accounts and drained them before the family knew what was happening.

I want to apologize if I am scaring u b/c that is not my intention. I am just trying to emphasize how critical it is that u get a hand on this now because it sounds as though u have a head start on the situation. The Hospice Provider should be notified of the nurses inappropriate behavior as well as Adult Protective Services. I might even go as far as to report the behavior to your states licensing board of nurses for investigation. If she is displaying this type of behavior...chances are she has done it before or will do it in the future. I know these steps might seem extreme but u will not only be protecting your mother but will be taking a proactive step towards helping another unfortunate individual that doesn't have family to watch out for them like u can for your mother. I hope this helps.

Lynn ellis richardson, esq. answered...

It may be important to determine whether or not your mother is comfortable handling her own affairs. A family meeting, which includes your mother and siblings, to discuss financial and disability planning would be prudent. An Elder Law attorney has many tools to transfer the management of the parents affairs, with the appropriate knowledge and consent of the parent, to a trust child or children. Often, when predators find out that the parent's assets are protected by a trust or other method, the predator will go hunting elsewhere.

Ca-claire answered...

A Hospice employee should NEVER bring a spouse or member of their own family with them. They are breaking privacy laws at the very least, just by having their family member know the name of the person that they are treating or visiting.

They may be completely innocent wanting to just be friends with your mother, however from the sounds of the questions that they are asking, it is doubtful that their visits are innocent.

It is way too easy to take advantage of seniors in this day and age, even with the Elder Abuse protections available.