Adam and End-of-Life Care for the Homeless

Our Friend Adam

Last week I wrote about my husband’s friend “Adam” in reference to the dangers of being homeless during the hottest parts of summer.

Adam had disappeared from where Michael normally spends time with him, but now he’s back. Sadly, he is not well. He was in the hospital because of a minor stroke and some serious complications with COPD.

According to Adam, the doctors have only given him a few months to live. We found out on Monday, and Michael has been meeting with him to have breakfast, go over his options, etc. He plans to help review the medical records tomorrow.

Adam wants to move back with some relatives nearby, who he says are willing to care for him. Due to parole, he is not allowed to leave the District until the end of the year, when it might be too late. He requested an exception because of his situation but was denied.

In the meantime, Michael has been talking to him about hospice care. DC has hospice organizations and charities that offer end-of-life care for the homeless population. Adam is interested, but he worries that by entering hospice he will be signing away his independence.

This experience has moved me deeply, mainly because of how much I know Michael loves his friend. Please keep Adam in mind (and in your prayers, if you’re the praying type).


Hospice Care for People Who Are Homeless

In learning about Adam’s situation I have also learned about the kind of people who serve the Adams of the world. These folks refuse to let the city’s homeless population die quietly in the night – their bodies found under bridges or benches – if they can help it.

In DC, Joseph’s House charity provides hospice care for homeless men and women. Their services include housing and community meals, addiction recovery support, grief counseling, and help with mental illness and emotional scarring. In general, they serve terminally ill patients, but in the case that someone in their care improves, they support him or her in transitioning out of the home.

Places like Joseph’s House offer atypical hospice care to atypical people in atypical situations. I’m glad there are people who specialize in these obscure forms of servanthood.

Does your area have anything like this for homeless men and women? Where can they go if they find out they are sick and need regular care?

One Response to “Adam and End-of-Life Care for the Homeless”
  1. Thank you for sharing this, Jo. One of my favorite clinics in med school is at Bridge House, an addiction recovery program. Those guys are so cool. A few classmates started a medical homeless outreach as well. It deals with the chronic medical issues of one of the least healthy populations in New Orleans.

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