Archive for category Hospice

What’s Your Story?


Currently, I am working as a hospice volunteer coordinator.  Recently, I put together a list of items, or stories a parent or grandparent might want to write down and pass on.  It was the passing of my grandmother, that made me think of such a list.  Nene died this winter; she was 98.  She hadn’t been able to communicate much for years, and the opportunity to ask these type of questions, sadly is gone.

When I think about what is the most valuable item a person could leave for another person, I think it might be an “All About Me” journal.  This journal could be passed on for generations to come.  If you have an elderly person in your life, or someone who is on hospice, this is a terrific thing to do.

Purchase a good quality journal (acid free paper), have the person write down the answers in their own writing (printing-not cursive), or have another individual write down the answers.  If there are multiple children, find a way to make a copy of it.  Finally, attach personal photos in the journal.  Consider the best time to share it.  An individual who completes it him or herself, may want to share it with the “receiver”, or wrap it up and place it aside for a special gift for some time in the future.

*Click below, and continue on next page for my list:

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A Beautiful Gift


This was a very touching story of a young man named Chris (aged 31), who took in an elderly neighbor named Norma who was dying from Leukemia.  He credited her with “changing his life for the better and helping to teach him to be a kinder, gentler and more compassionate person”.  After she died, he posted her photo on Facebook and he wrote this message:

“To love another is not about living struggle free or never experiencing hurt or loss, but to fully and deeply open our hearts to one another without fear. Each of us is lovable even with all of our differences. Love has no boundaries”.

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Eugenia Smiled


Do you work with seniors who have end-stage (or advanced) Alzheimer’s?  Have you found it challenging to connect to them in a meaningful way?  It can be difficult without knowing something about what they used to enjoy.  Below is a story of Eugenia, a senior who was 100 years old and was told that she didn’t need a volunteer.  Not only did she have an advanced case of Alzheimer’s, she was partially blind and had hearing difficulties.

A volunteer coordinator decided to place a volunteer with Eugenia every day of the week.  Each day volunteers read to her.  Volunteers also oriented Eugenia to her surroundings and the time.  Week after week, Eugenia continued to be unaware of the companionship she was receiving.  But one day, a young volunteer sang his university’s fight song.  Then it happened- Eugenia’s feet began to tap.  She bobbed her head and lifted her eyes.  With all eyes on Eugenia, she looked up and spread her lips and smiled.

It took time and patience.  It took finding what Eugenia needed to connect to the outside world.  Her smile meant so much to those volunteers- they had finally made a connection.  What she needed was music!

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Hasbro’s Robotic Pet Therapy


Modern technology has produced something very special- a new companion for the elderly who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  It is a Robotic Pet and it acts similar to a live pet, but it never runs away, has to be fed, or must make an expensive trip to the vet!  These pets give these seniors a true companion and would be terrific for any activity program.  The video is short, but very sweet and shows how these pets can make a real difference to your loved one.  You can find these at

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Recently I came across a web-site for Biblical based bereavement support.  The web-site allowed me to type in my zip code and showed a support group in my area, only 15 minutes away.  This is a program for individuals who have lost a loved one (ie, not a pet).  Here is how this program works:

  • All participants go through curriculum based support material.
  • It lasts for 13 weeks.
  • When the 13 week program is over, many participants find that they have made close friends and even choose to attend another program.
  • There is a minimal cost for materials.
  • You can join any time, but are encouraged to start at the beginning of the session, in order to gain the most benefit.
  • The views in this particular program are of the Christ centered community, but people of all faiths have joined and share that they have learned helpful information and tips.
  • Meetings are held at churches or locations such as the public library.

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Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules


Source: Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules | Kaiser Health News

This is an article about a woman who wanted to file a claim against a nursing home and her experience.  It can be very difficult to prove the case of abuse and neglect in a long-term care facility without the use of technology (a video camera) because while abuse occurs, falls and other incidents of accidents also occur.  While it can be challenging for a family member to prove abuse, it can be even more so, to prove neglect.

In this article, a case is described where a man with dementia who had a history of wandering was placed in a nursing home, only to die within a month of complications from dehydration.  Is it possible the CNAs didn’t offer him enough to drink?  Yes, this is possible.  But did you know, some dementia patients who pace burn many calories (causing significant weight loss), while at the same time refuse to eat or drink enough to survive?  Many patients with dementia who pace could use the benefit of additional calories through a feeding tube (G-tube), but they are so restless or agitated, that in some cases a G-tube can’t be inserted due the the dementia patient being at high risk for pulling it out.

Monitoring the delivery of good patient care can be challenging.  I would like to hear your thoughts on this issue.

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Does It Matter Whether We’re Cremated or Buried?


Does It Matter Whether We’re Cremated or Buried? | Desiring God.

Do you have a loved one in your life who is aged?  Have you discussed their choice for burial or cremation?  Do you plan to respect their wishes?

This is an issue I have pondered for years, as I consider my grandmother who is in her 90’s and confused.  She stated clearly to me years ago, that she wanted to be buried by my grandfather.  I realize that the decision to bury her lies with her adult children (not me).  I can only hope they will respect her wishes.

I have considered both the pros and cons in relation to burial versus cremation- not only for my grandmother, but for my parents and myself.  There are different issues that affect people’s decisions:  cultural and religious traditions, financial impacts, and even environmental aspects.

Today, I read an article by a Christian who stated that the Christian tradition is to bury the dead.  John Piper stated it well, “The biblical pattern is that burning your children is pagan and burying your loved ones is a sign that you believe in the resurrection.”   Many Christians still bury their dead, but there has been an increase lately in cremation.  The Jewish tradition is to bury their dead.  I have read that Hindus cremate their dead and Muslims bury their dead.

This is certainly a sensitive topic, but one that should be discussed with our loved ones.  What do you think?


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Where’s Mary?


I recently spoke to a woman who has a friend in an assistant living.  Here is a story that was relayed to me about the assisted living….

At this assisted living, most seniors are of sound mind- yet, are unable to live independently to do some other disability.  When someone from the assisted living dies, the staff keep it a secret.  None of the seniors in the assisted living are told.  Perhaps for privacy reasons, or to not make them worry.  Of course the seniors figure it out- as they inquire to staff or another resident, “Where’s Mary?”

My first thought was to say- this is silly, that these seniors have lived their whole lives dealing with life and death and they aren’t children.  Surely, the staff can sit them down and tell them gently that Mary died…. maybe take a few minutes to recall some special things about her.  My thought was that the seniors are able to handle it- that they are stronger than we think.

When I asked my husband, he disagreed and said that staff should spare the residents heartache and that it was better for them to find out on their own.  He said their mind is probably already centered too much on their own mortality and that they don’t need to be reminded that people the only leave the facility by going to a nursing home or dying.

What do you you think?


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The Top 5 Regrets People Have When Faced With Death



Nurse reveals the top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed.

A nurse in palliative care (Hospice) reported five regrets people tended to voice before dying.  They are listed in the article above.  If you want a life that has fewer regrets and is more fulfilling; you can have it.  It simply requires some self-reflection and a desire to make changes where necessary.  Choosing a life that is more fulfilling, will not only impact you, it will also create a life that is more fulfilling to others around you.  It’s a win-win situation.

1.  Be true to yourself and honor at least some of your dreams.  Do you want to visit the Grand Canyon or Europe?  Make a plan- while you still are in good health.

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Facing Death With Unbelievable Courage

bookYears ago, an acquaintance of mine shared the story of her mother who died at age 46.  It was such a touching story; I still recall it today.  Jo Brown of Anderson, S.C. was a mother of two who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.  She was a Christian and wasn’t afraid of death and didn’t want her children or grandchildren to be scared either.  She had a credo “God doesn’t make mistakes.  I rest my soul in Him.”

In the last three months of her life, Jo Brown was very open about her sickness, allowed her friends to help with tasks around the house, and even visited her “resting place”.  She has left a tremendous legacy of love and courage to her family and others.

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