A Life Well-Lived

Caris Healthcare admitted a 103-year-old woman with a terminal diagnosis of cerebral degeneration who had been a resident at a nursing center for approximately ten years. The patient’s daughter was in her early 80s and an only child, with several health concerns of her own.

Her mother had been in her life so long that, even at 80 years old, she could not imagine life without her. The daughter appreciated the additional support the Caris team provided during her mother’s slow, gradual decline, and found it wonderfully therapeutic to tell stories of her mother from the past.

During one of these visits, a Caris chaplain had the idea to put together a history of the patient’s life. He decided to create a timeline detailing important milestones of the patient’s life from birth through all 103 years of her life, placing them in context with 100 years of American history. The daughter thought this was a fantastic idea and eagerly anticipated her interviews with the chaplain to talk about her mom’s life.

In these interviews, the daughter recalled important and meaningful memories about her mother and was able to come to terms with the fact that their time together was coming to an end. With creative help from a Caris Volunteer Coordinator, our chaplain printed and framed the finished history.

Towards the end of the project, the patient died peacefully at her nursing center. The Caris team worked with a sense of urgency so they could present the history book to the family at the patient’s celebration of life. The family’s clergy conducted the service, and the presentation of the history book was the highlight of the reception afterward. For the daughter, this special documentation of her mom’s life was a gift of meaning and gratitude for a long life well-lived.