Aug 25

Faithfully Devoted: Honoring Wishes Made Simple with Hospice

Aunt Eva

Great Aunt Eva

A quiet soul and one who always thought of everyone else first, Eva had a beautiful smile and a kind, gentle presence. She spent her 90-plus years on this earth dedicated to the service of others, providing compassionate care as a nurse and a helping hand to many, including four of her siblings as they neared the end of life. But as the youngest of nine siblings, Eva was also accustomed to being cared for during most of her life. So as she herself neared the end of life, her closest relatives knew they would want to fulfill as many of her wishes as possible because of her generous, kind-hearted spirit.

“It had been her wish to not spend her last days in a nursing home, and so it was very important for us to do whatever we needed to do to make that happen,” Jessica Shawn, Eva’s great niece said. As one of Eva’s only relatives in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Jessica provided much support for Eva, including running errands and being a local contact for both her medical needs and the assisted living facility where Eva resided. Jessica happily took on this role as Great Aunt Eva was a sister to her own grandmother, whom Jessica was very close to growing up.

In addition to the bond she felt for Eva through her grandmother, Jessica’s mom, who lives in Montana, was Eva’s medical power of attorney, responsible for making Eva’s health care decisions as she neared the end of her life. So Jessica was the local “go-between,” while Jessica’s mom could focus on making sure Eva’s wishes were followed. “Eva and I became good buddies, and she was very easy to be around,” Jessica shared. “Sometimes as people age, they aren’t as easy to be around, and we were blessed that up until her last day, she was a great spirit and just a wonderful person.”

When Eva became ill with heart complications in October 2014, her family made the choice to call Hospice of the Red River Valley for an added layer of support so they could keep Eva in her home where she wanted to be. “What surprised me the most was how quickly everything came together and how there wasn’t a long drawn-out process to get her started on hospice and getting assistance,” Jessica explained. “It just fell into place and started happening right away, which is what we needed. Hours are precious when you are at that point, so to have that help right away and such in-depth and breadth of help was huge for our family.”

Newly pregnant and working two jobs, Jessica welcomed the extra support from Hospice as she knew she couldn’t do everything Eva required on her own. As needs were identified, Hospice took care of them within just a few hours, from supplies, such as a hospital bed and oxygen, to coordination with Eva’s doctors. Hospice also connected the family to an additional home care resource so Eva could have extra attention and support. “They also had great resources for us as a family to read through. In the evenings when I would get there, it was nice to have books and pamphlets there outlining what was going to happen,” Jessica said. “Those resources were really helpful as well.”

Jessica Shawn with Amelia

Jessica with daughter, Amelia

“With all of the different pieces, it would have taken me a lot of time to figure out on my own. I could just focus on spending time with Eva and know that I would receive a call if something happened and they [Hospice staff] would keep me updated,” she said. One special memory that Jessica shared with Eva during this precious time was the announcement of her pregnancy. “I was able to show Eva the first ultrasound, so she was able to know about our baby. I found out later on that she would tell the assisted living facility staff how much she wanted us to have a baby and how much she was hoping for that. To share that moment with her was pretty incredible,” Jessica said with a smile.

The family was especially grateful for two areas of support Hospice provided: communication back and forth with the family and pastoral care. “With my mom being the primary contact, living in Montana, she was really impressed with the constant communication. Hospice was phenomenal about calling and keeping her updated, talking to her about different things. That was huge for her,” Jessica recalled. “It kind of took some of the pressure off me to keep her updated as well. Hospice was there to take care of us. It was a really great experience.”

Deep-rooted in the fabric of her being was Eva’s faith. The faith resources offered through Hospice were greatly appreciated by both Eva and her family. Hospice of the Red River Valley Chaplain Randy visited Eva during her time on hospice care, playing guitar, singing songs and reading Bible verses to her. “He was actually there when she passed away, too. To have someone of faith there with her when she passed, meant so much to her, really,” Jessica explained. “After she passed, he stayed with us while we were waiting for the nurse and the funeral home to come. It was incredible.”

Randy spoke of the time he had with Eva in her final hours, sharing with Jessica they were discussing Eva’s favorite family picture and stories of her family members. “Then, he was so kind to come to her funeral service. So I got to introduce him to family who came for the funeral and say this was the person who was with Eva when she passed. That was great.”

“Eva’s family spoke with me about how important her faith was to her, and how music was a big part of her spiritual life,” Randy, Hospice of the Red River Valley chaplain, said. “During my first visit with Eva, she told me she had played in the church bell choir in the past couple of years and how much that meant to her. It was a joy for me to visit Eva and sing the hymns that were meaningful to her. It was an honor to do that for her in the last hour of her earthly life.”

Hospice of the Red River Valley only cared for Eva for 10 days before her passing, but the care and compassion the Hospice staff showed Eva left a lasting impression on Jessica and her family. “They only had a few days to get to know my great aunt, but I felt immediately that they cared for her and our family. They really took time to get to know her, knowing she wasn’t going to be alive for much longer. But Hospice still made that investment in getting to know her and our family. It was incredible,” Jessica said. “No one calls Hospice because things are going well. You’re getting a call because someone’s loved one is in a critical time or possibly the worst time of their lives. There didn’t seem to be any compassion fatigue [with Hospice]; it was like we were their only client.”

For that, Jessica and her family will forever be grateful. “Hospice can be as much or as little as you want it to be,” Jessica explained. “When we needed extra services, they provided. It’s another resource to help you through a difficult time.”

 

Upcoming Events

We have several upcoming community events for Hospice of the Red River Valley. We hope to see you there!

Ride the Red
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015
Trefoil Park, Fargo, N.D.

Flint Communications is excited to hold the 15th annual bike ride for charity, Ride the Red, to raise support for Hospice of the Red River Valley. This family-friendly, non-competitive bike ride is approximately 13 miles. Children under 12 ride free with a paid adult. To register or for more information, click here.

Ole’s Ride
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Starts at Billy’s Corner Bar, Vergas, Minn.

Ole’s Ride is a motorcycle ride held in memory of Ole Barten, who lost his battle to cancer in February 2011. The ride kicks off from Billy’s Corner Bar in Vergas at noon. The cost is $25 per bike, $15 for additional rider, and includes a T-shirt, meal and chances at door prizes at each stop. A meal and live music by the FATCATS follow the ride. For more information, visit the Ole’s Ride Facebook page.

2015 Fall Grief Classes and Workshops
Multiple locations

When grief enters our lives, everything changes. Losing a loved one through death can be one of the most difficult experiences in a person’s life. We can help you cope with the change—and the grief. Listed below are upcoming educational and support opportunities offered through the bereavement department at Hospice of the Red River Valley this fall. For more information, click here.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/08/25/faithfully-devoted-honoring-wishes-made-simple-with-hospice/

Aug 10

How to Recognize Signs of Pain in Those with Dementia

Roxanne Smedsrudby Roxanne Smedsrud

I have been working in hospice care for more than 20 years, and when I hear the word pain, I can’t help but think no one should have to hurt at the end of life. This is especially true when I think of people living with dementia. Dementia is disease type that causes impairments in language, memory, personality, behavior and judgment. It is a chronic disease that causes continuous decline in the ability to see, hear, move, taste, remember, reason and understand. Because of their disease, most dementia patients can no longer report pain because they do not recognize it. Who will advocate for their comfort?

Pain in individuals with dementia is often under assessed and under treated. Studies indicate that although dementia patients experience severe or chronic pain, they regularly receive fewer pain medications than healthy senior adults. The results of one study also showed Alzheimer’s disease, which is a category of dementia, did not alter the sensation of pain in individuals with Alzheimer’s; it only altered their ability to report pain.

Because a person with dementia may not be able to tell anyone of the pain he or she experiences, it’s so important to educate the caregiver. Whether the caregiver is a significant other, a family member, a CNA or a nurse, they all need to recognize the verbal and nonverbal signs of pain to ensure comfort for the individual with dementia. One situation in particular I have witnessed throughout my years as a hospice nurse is the misconception that the patient is comfortable as long as he or she is not moved around. A patient should be able to be repositioned without the fear of pain.

Signs or behaviors—nonverbal and verbal—indicating pain can include:

  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Constant pacing, moving or unwillingness to sit down
  • Moaning, crying, sighing and even heavy breathing
  • Frowning, grimacing or a furrowed brow
  • Sleeping all day or not being able to sleep
  • Very rigid, striking out or resistive

It can be challenging to assess the comfort of someone with dementia. Pain is ever-changing and needs to be continually assessed, especially in the individual who is no longer able to even recognize pain. It is amazing what a little bit of pain medication, an hour before cares, can do for a person’s comfort, and how much easier it will be for that caregiver to provide cares.

I hope this information will help caregivers continue to provide best care possible.

Roxanne Smedsrud is a clinical education specialist at Hospice of the Red River Valley.

Upcoming Events

We have several upcoming community events for Hospice of the Red River Valley. We hope to see you there!

Living with Dementia
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
7-8:30 p.m.
Hjemkomst Center, 202 1st Ave. N., Moorhead, Minn.

This event, co-sponsored by HRRV and the Alzheimer’s Association, features Carol Bradley Bursack and Dr. Tricia Langlois. Attendees will learn practical advice, resources and stories to offer hope and guide those living with dementia at any stage and their caregivers. Bring your questions! This event is free and open to the community. For more information, click here.

Ole’s Ride
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Starts at Billy’s Corner Bar, Vergas, Minn.

Ole’s Ride is a motorcycle ride held in memory of Ole Barten, who lost his battle to cancer in February 2011. The ride kicks off from Billy’s Corner Bar in Vergas at noon. The cost is $25 per bike, $15 for additional rider, and includes a T-shirt, meal and chances at door prizes at each stop. A meal and live music by the FATCATS follow the ride. For more information, visit the Ole’s Ride Facebook page.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/08/10/how-to-recognize-signs-of-pain-in-those-with-dementia/

Jul 28

When Irish Eyes are Smiling: Hospice Volunteer Brightens Patients’ Days

Clarice Satrom has always been an outgoing and fun-loving person. Growing up in a tight-knit Irish family, she learned to appreciate music, dancing and laughter. She carried on her family’s traditions as she and her husband Lester raised two daughters and two sons on their farm near Grandin, N.D. Through 48 years of marriage, Clarice and Lester enjoyed many laughs and memories.

A conversation with her husband’s doctor several years ago set Clarice and Lester’s lives on a path they hadn’t anticipated. Lester had previously been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and Lester’s doctor sat Clarice down for a talk during an appointment. “He said, ‘Why isn’t he on hospice?’ And I said, ‘Well, I thought that wasn’t until the end of your life,’” Clarice explained. “The doctor told me that’s what everybody says, and then he went to the phone and got my husband on hospice care immediately.”

Clarice hadn’t thought about hospice prior to that meeting, but she and Lester were thrilled with the care he received. An early referral to hospice by Lester’s doctor helped him live more fully for the next two years in their home and, later, in the nursing home. “I didn’t realize the full services [offered by Hospice of the Red River Valley],” she said. As Lester’s health continued to decline, Hospice was there for the couple. “The care was just so wonderful. The Hospice staff was always so helpful and nice and polite. They paid so much attention to him.” Lester passed away under the care of Hospice of the Red River Valley in 2008.

“After he died, I just didn’t know what I was going to do with myself,” Clarice said. “I felt all alone, even though I wasn’t.” Her two sons had taken over operations of the family farm, and Clarice kept busy cooking meals and taking care of her home. But she wanted to do something more.

Clarice was asked by a Hospice staff member if she’d be interested in volunteering for the organization. She quickly agreed. “I thought, ‘I’m lonely. I need to go out and do something,’” Clarice shared. “Hospice is wonderful, and I knew I wanted to do it.”

Clarice Satrom

Throughout the past seven years, she has worked with dozens of patients. Clarice believes she’s able to bond with patients quickly because she brings her personality and sense of humor to the work, and she likes to keep things light-hearted. Her enthusiasm for the work—and her friendly, humorous personality—comes across as she recounts stories of her time spent volunteering.

She dresses in costumes and visits with patients on holidays. “Oh boy, do they laugh,” she says as she smiles. “At the nursing home and assisted living home, the people there are just so fun!” She sings and dances with patients when someone agrees to play the piano or guitar. She reads, goes for walks and sits at their bedsides. “Anything they want,” she said.

Each patient is different, of course. Clarice takes time to get to know them as individuals, to figure out “what makes them tick and then I work with that,” she said. She recalled one patient who had trouble speaking because of her illness, which made it difficult to have conversations. Clarice tried a new approach to connect with the patient. “One day I said, “Let’s sing Jesus Loves Me, and she just sang her heart out,” Clarice shared. “She knew all these songs, and she could sing them out, and you could understand her.”

Clarice pours her heart and soul into volunteering with Hospice patients. And giving back means the world to her. “People ask me, ‘How can you do it?’ I can do it because I love it,” she explained. “I love the people. I love to talk to people and especially in a situation like that. They’re all so precious.”

Upcoming Events

We have several upcoming community events for Hospice of the Red River Valley. We hope to see you there!

Living with Dementia
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
7-8:30 p.m.
Hjemkomst Center, 202 1st Ave. N., Moorhead, Minn.

This event, co-sponsored by HRRV and the Alzheimer’s Association, features Carol Bradley Bursack and Dr. Tricia Langlois. Attendees will learn practical advice, resources and stories to offer hope and guide those living with dementia at any stage and their caregivers. Bring your questions! This event is free and open to the community. For more information, click here.

Ole’s Ride
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Starts at Billy’s Corner Bar, Vergas, Minn.

Ole’s Ride is a motorcycle ride held in memory of Ole Barten, who lost his battle to cancer in February 2011. The ride kicks off from Billy’s Corner Bar in Vergas at noon. The cost is $25 per bike, $15 for additional rider, and includes a T-shirt, meal and chances at door prizes at each stop. A meal and live music by the FATCATS follow the ride. For more information, visit the Ole’s Ride Facebook page.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/07/28/when-irish-eyes-are-smiling-hospice-volunteer-brightens-patients-days/

Jul 14

Gifted Gratitude: A Family Member’s Choice to Support Hospice

Mary Nelson collage_blog

Mary with photographs of her mother and husband.

“I knew if I needed them, all I had to do was pick up the phone and they’d be there. I could not have done this [cared for loved ones], twice, without Hospice.”

Imagine, for a moment, facing the news that two of your closest loved ones are terminally ill—just a few short years apart. Mary Nelson experienced just that, when her mother, Evelyn, and husband, Donovon, became ill within four years of each other. While for many the decision to call hospice is a last resort, for Mary, making the call for her most precious loved ones was made with no reluctance.

“My mother went into hospice care twice. The first time her condition improved so much she was discharged!” Mary said. “The second time, she was cared for by Hospice for only two-three weeks before her death.”

Mary was in California when Hospice called and said her mother was unresponsive. “When I got home, I spent the night with her,” Mary remembered. “As I was leaving in the morning to go change clothes, my son, Ron, stopped to see Nana. As I walked through the door at home, Ron called. He said, ‘She’s going, Mom.’ He put the phone to my mother’s ear and I told her I loved her and daddy was waiting for her. Then she was gone.” Evelyn peacefully passed away at age 96 with Hospice and her grandson there when she passed.

With Mary’s mother residing at an assisted living facility, Mary did not have as much personal contact with Hospice staff outside of meetings. Regardless, Mary recognized the value hospice care brought to her mother’s life, and when the time came to call Hospice for Donovon, she didn’t hesitate.

“Donovon had no resistance,” Mary recalled. “He had been falling, and I was worried about caring for him. I told him I knew how we could keep him at home—hospice. Donovon said, ‘Call them. I like my house. I love my bed. I want to stay.’” So they did. Mary made the call.

For six months, Donovon was cared for by Hospice of the Red River Valley in their home where both he and Mary experienced the full scope and support of hospice services. “Jerry, Donovon’s CNA, was a Godsend,” Mary remembered. “Jerry would bathe and shave him. And Donovon would joke around with Jerry, and his nurse, Gloria. He really enjoyed them.”

In the early stages of hospice care, Donovon still enjoyed the same things he had always loved. Quickly identifying all of the coffee shops in town with comfortable chairs, the couple went out almost daily for coffee. Because Donovon was an avid reader, they went to all of the libraries in town so he could enjoy biographies and follow his beloved Minnesota Gophers.

“A few days before he died, he put his arm around me and said, ‘Thank you for taking care of me,’” Mary described. Two days later, on February 19, 2011, Donovon passed away at age 88, in his home, with his wife of 35 years at his side.

“I would not have done anything differently,” Mary said. “Even knowing now what it would involve, I’d do it again. But I could not have done it without trained hospice professionals, on-hand, to guide and support me.”

After witnessing hospice care first-hand, Mary believes it’s important that hospice care be available to our children and grandchildren, and she has made the decision and financial commitment to include Hospice of the Red River Valley in her will. “It feels good to give. Especially to an organization that’s helped me so much.” She had already been supporting Hospice through memorial gifts, but adding Hospice of the Red River Valley in a codicil to her will was an easy decision, and process, that allows for flexibility and future change.

“I have been truly blessed in my life. I have a wonderful family and enjoyed a fulfilling career. I have more than I need,” Mary said. “Hospice of the Red River Valley helped me when I needed help. It’s payback time. To me, it just makes sense to continue giving beyond my lifetime, just as I give now.”

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/07/14/gifted-gratitude-a-family-members-choice-to-support-hospice/

Jun 30

Are You Traveling Without A Road Map? Advance Care Planning Essentials

By Judy Peterson

Advance care planning is like planning a road trip to an unfamiliar destination. People approach mapping their route in different ways, but your trip can be made more comfortable by planning ahead. An Advance directive is a map detailing where you want your health care “to go,” in the event you are unable to voice your own wishes.

Do you have a written plan stating what kind of health care treatments you would or would not want if you could not speak for yourself?

Consider this…

Are you traveling_road map

Death comes in its own way, in its own time. None of us can predict when our final day will arrive. Advance directives are not only for the elderly; in fact, anyone 18 years and older should complete an advance directive. By completing an advanced directive, people and their families are able to have tough conversations well before the directive is actually needed.

What is an advance directive?
It is a written statement of your wishes, preferences, goal and values regarding end-of-life health care decisions. It is only used if you are seriously ill and unable to speak for yourself. There are two components to the directive.

  • Naming of a medical (health care) power of attorney
  • Living will

What is a surrogate or health care agent, and who do I choose to take on that role?
A surrogate or health care agent, also referred to as a health care proxy, is a health care advocate for a person if he or she is unable to make decisions for him or herself.

When choosing a surrogate or health care agent you should consider someone who:

  • Knows you well
  • Will remain calm in a crisis
  • Is not afraid to ask questions and advocate for you to your medical team
  • Can reassure and communicate with your loved ones
  • Understands how you would make the decisions if you were not able to

What is a living will?
A living will is a portion of documentation where a person’s explanation his or her wishes for end-of-life care can be incorporated. Living wills can be extensive, or quite simple, and should include an explanation of the individual’s values, wishes, preferences and goals for end-of-life care. There should be a description of what, if any, life-sustaining treatment you would want, including artificial nutrition and hydration (feeding tube), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), do-not-resuscitate order (DNR), palliative care and hospice care.

When the documentation is complete, what should I do with it?
You must include your signature on all documentation, and your signature must be either notarized or witnessed. In North Dakota, either option is sufficient to legalize the document. The “Five Wishes” document is recognized in many states and does not require notarization, but your signature must be accompanied by two witness signatures.
You should retain the original version of the completed and signed documentation in a safe, accessible location within your home. Copies should be made for each of your health care decision makers and your health care institution (for their electronic medical record). It is not recommended to keep the only version of the document in a safety deposit box at the bank. This information should be readily available for review when the need arises.

If any of the following situations occur, your document should be updated:

  • When there is a divorce
  • When a family-related death has occurred
  • When chronically ill, or there is a change in your health status
  • During every decade of life
  • If you receive a new, life limiting diagnosis

If I have a power of attorney, do I need an advance directive?
Yes, the power of attorney (POA), or conservator, is normally associated with someone who takes care of financial matters for an incapacitated person. The advance directive for health care only covers health care decision making.

What is a POLST?
A physician order for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) is intended to be completed alongside a patient’s physician to guide the actions of emergency medical personnel (e.g., whether or not to perform CPR). It is a medical order that gives patients more control in their end-of-life care. A POLST must be signed by a doctor or other medical professional after having a conversation about end-of-life care with the patient. It is intended for people who have a serious illness—at any age—and usually completed when it is anticipated the patient has a year or less to live.

Currently, a POLST does not exist in the state of North Dakota; however, Honoring Choices North Dakota is currently developing a standardized medical order form that represents and individual’s preferences for end-of-life care. At this time, it is work in progress and will eventually become a North Dakota physician order for life sustaining treatment. Currently, the state of Minnesota has a POLST in use that was developed as part of Honoring Choices Minnesota.

Where do I find information on advanced care planning or an advance directive form?

CaringInfo
Aging with Dignity “Five Wishes” Advance Directive Guide
Honoring Choices Minnesota
National Health Care Decision Day website

Be bold. Have the conversation and document your wishes, you’ll be glad you did. If you have questions, please contact us at (800) 237-4629 or questions@hrrv.org.

Judy Peterson is a clinical education supervisor at Hospice of the Red River Valley.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/06/30/are-you-traveling-without-a-road-map-advanced-care-planning-essentials/

Jun 16

Shear Gratitude: Volunteer Delights Hospice Patients with Haircuts

Rebecca Wood, hair stylist and owner of a West Fargo salon and spa, has found the perfect way to blend her talents as a stylist with her love of volunteering. For the past year, Rebecca has visited the homes of Hospice of the Red River Valley patients to provide refreshing haircuts, and sometimes even a quick style. “Volunteering has always been a passion of mine. This experience has been nothing but positive, and I leave every single visit feeling like a changed person. It has absolutely changed my life—100%,” Rebecca said.

During each visit, Rebecca forms a bond with the hospice patient—and caregiver—while fashioning the perfect haircut for each patient. Because every person is different and the reason for Rebecca’s visit may vary, as well, she always begins by getting to know the patient and establishing rapport. “I start out in front of the patient just talking to them, trying to figure out why I am there to help,” Rebecca shared. “I ask questions like, ‘What is it you’re looking for?’ For some people, they want to feel like themselves again; ‘I used to have my hair like this.’ For other people, it’s more like, ‘This bothers me because my hair is in my eyes.’ Everyone has a little bit different situation. I also always ask, ‘What’s your story? Tell me a little bit about you.’”

Rebecca Wood_quote

Rebecca’s very first patient visit left a lasting impression on her. She says, “I was sold from then on.” At that visit, the hospice patient was so thankful for what some people might take for granted—a simple haircut—without having to worry about how to get to and from a salon. “I remember feeling like I didn’t want to leave. I could just stay there and visit. It was amazing,” Rebecca explained. Before that interaction, Rebecca recalls being a bit nervous, intimidated and thinking what many people think about hospice—that it’s somewhat scary. “I tell people, it’s not a scary thing. It’s not what you would expect; it’s way more positive. I think the biggest misconception of hospice I had was that they are people who are very sad and desperate, in a bad, bad place. And that is not the case at all.”

In Rebecca’s line of work she has many positive experiences with clients, and although those experiences touch her heart, she says they don’t compare to helping someone who is nearing the end of life. “You’re going into a situation where a patient maybe doesn’t feel like him or herself, and you’re able to do something as simple as a haircut and watch them kind of become themselves again. I can’t even articulate how that feels,” Rebecca said with a smile. “An even bigger piece of that is when there is another family member or caregiver involved; it impacts them just as much, if not more, to see their loved one look like him or herself again.”

As Rebecca continues to volunteer with Hospice, she knows she is creating lifelong memories and lessons she can pass along to her two daughters, ages 3 and 7. “I think it’s important that they know I’m not choosing to spend time away from them because I don’t want to be with them, but because I feel like this is important work, and I want to pass that down to them,” Rebecca said. In fact, her oldest daughter came home from school the other day and said, ‘I told my teacher that you volunteer for Hospice, and you give haircuts to people who are really sick. I’m really proud that you’re my mom.’ “To know that she ‘gets it’ and it’s something bigger than us—that makes me feel like it’s just another piece of the puzzle,” Rebecca said. “You can tell your kids, but I believe that actions speak louder than words and to see their mom takes the time to do this, that is important.”

As for the volunteer work, Rebecca says she can remember every single hospice patient in detail. She can recall the moment she walked in the door until she left. “Every single one of them has been impactful. I’ve said many times, if I could volunteer full-time for Hospice and that could be my job, I’d be happy,” she shared. “Volunteering for Hospice has restored my faith in humanity. It has been so rewarding for me, and I’ve met some incredible people and had some unbelievable experiences, and it’s something I don’t ever see myself not doing.”

Upcoming Event

We have an upcoming community event that benefits Hospice of the Red River Valley. We hope to see you there!

Go Hawaiian for Hospice
Thursday, June 25, 2015
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Choice Financial: 4501 23rd Ave. S., Fargo

Choice Financial invites the community to Go Hawaiian for Hospice! Join us for the 3rd annual luau lunch fundraiser. For a suggested donation of $5, attendees will feast on a pig roast, baked potato, fresh pineapple, Hawaiian Punch and a frozen treat. By making a donation of $25 or more, you will receive a $25 gift certificate for Maxwells (one per person)! To join the Facebook event, click here.

1 ‘Like’ = $1 for Hospice!*
Choice Financial will donate $1 for every new ‘Like’ on both the Choice Financial and the Hospice of the Red River Valley Facebook pages.
Facebook.com/choicefinancial
Facebook.com/hospicerrv
*Runs May 11-June 25. All funds will go directly to Hospice of the Red River Valley.

 

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/06/16/shear-gratitude-volunteer-delights-hospice-patients-with-haircuts/

Jun 02

In the Midst of a Life-Changing Event, Hospice Provides Extra Support to Patient

In late January 2015, on an otherwise normal day, Grace faced a life-changing incident: a heart attack. In an instant, Grace’s world turned upside-down, and she and her family were left with many uncertainties. “After the heart attack, things changed. There were many things Mom couldn’t do alone anymore,” Jodi, Grace’s daughter, said. “Losing that independence was hard for her—and us too, seeing her struggling to do some things that were easy for her the week before. The family needed to accept that fact and so did Mom.”Grace_quote

Because the three main arteries of Grace’s heart have 95% or more blockage, Grace’s doctor advised her to maintain minimal day-to-day activity and focus on a calm and peaceful lifestyle moving forward. Without hesitation, both Grace’s heart surgeon and cardiologist suggested it would be best to have hospice be a part of her life after she left the hospital. Initially, Jodi recalls being shocked when her mom’s doctors broached the topic of hospice care. “It took us by surprise, because to all of us, it felt like the end,” she shared. “That was until a Hospice representative talked to us about it, and explained it more thoroughly, and after that we were all comfortable with it. It doesn’t have to be the end. Hospice can be for somebody who has a critical condition and needs extra support and help. It made sense then, and Hospice has been wonderful and very helpful.”

Grace and Jodi

Grace with daughter Jodi

Together, as a family, Grace and her children decided Hospice of the Red River Valley would begin caring for Grace at her home, an assisted living facility in Fargo. “I didn’t know much about Hospice before. But I found out that Hospice really helps you with a lot of things,” Grace said. “When I need something, I just ask. They are very helpful.” From basic tasks like slipping on her socks and assisting her with dressing, to weekly whirlpool baths and checking her vitals, Grace has found peace in her care through Hospice staff, especially her registered nurse (RN) and certified nursing assistant (CNA). “At first, I didn’t think I wanted help with some things because I thought I needed to have some stuff to do, but now I do. I really do appreciate it [Hospice],” Grace said.

Jodi has found comfort in the care her mom receives, as well. “Hospice has taken over the brunt of what the staff at the assisted living facility cannot do. If there are things they can’t do at a specific time, Hospice has always been available to help Mom, which is great,” she explained. She is also pleased with the services Hospice has been able to offer and finds peace of mind in getting a second opinion and comparing notes with Hospice of the Red River Valley Nurse Gayle. “The thoroughness from Gayle is amazing! The time she spends visiting with Mom has been so nice; she’s not just in and out. I don’t even think twice about calling if I have questions.”Grace

“It is a privilege to provide care and support to Grace and her family. Grace has a very positive outlook on life and always has a smile on her face! Her family is very supportive and attentive to her needs,” Gayle said.

“Hospice of the Red River Valley is very caring, supportive and always there when you need them,” Jodi said. Grace echoes her daughter’s sentiments, “I agree with her 100 percent,” Grace said with a smile.

With her needs met, Grace can focus on enjoying life and attending activities and gatherings at the facility, including her personal favorite: bingo. She also delights in regular visits from her family: three other children, in addition to Jodi (Bonnie in Oakes, N.D., and Patty and Johnny in Florida), five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. “It’s so fun to get visitors,” she said.

 

 

Upcoming Events

We have several upcoming community events that benefit Hospice of the Red River Valley. We hope to see you there!

Go Hawaiian for Hospice
Thursday, June 25, 2015
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Choice Financial: 4501 23rd Ave. S., Fargo

Choice Financial invites the community to Go Hawaiian for Hospice! Join us for the 3rd annual luau lunch fundraiser. For a suggested donation of $5, attendees will feast on a pig roast, baked potato, fresh pineapple, Hawaiian Punch and a frozen treat. By making a donation of $25 or more, you will receive a $25 gift certificate for Maxwells (one per person)! To join the Facebook event, click here.

Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament
Sunday & Monday, June 28-29, 2015
Rose Creek Golf Course, Fargo

The 32nd Annual Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament will take place June 28-29 at Rose Creek Golf Course. To view the 2015 schedule of events or to register to golf, visit rogermarisgolf.com.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/06/02/in-the-midst-of-a-life-changing-event-hospice-provides-extra-support-to-patient/

May 19

A Labor of Love Becomes a Form of Healing

“A hug is a blanket of kindness.” – unknown author

Greeted by a hug and a warm smile, any guest to Joan’s home is considered an instant friend. It’s no surprise Joan is a “hugger.” For the past several months, her fingers have carefully weaved vibrant, colorful strings of yarn this way and that, creating the material embodiment of a hug—crocheted blankets.

It’s a lost art form, a labor of love. And for Joan, crocheting blankets turned into a saving grace. In December 2013, Joan suddenly lost her husband, Ralph. Immersed in her grief, Joan coped as best she could by staying busy. “I told myself, I gotta do something,” Joan recalled.

Joan with quilts

Accustomed to being busy, Joan’s no stranger to hard work. Throughout their nearly 68-year marriage, Joan and Ralph raised three boys and built seven houses on their 15-acre lake property. “I’ve done it all,” Joan explained. “I’ve been on rooftops and raised walls.” And when Ralph’s diabetes took his legs, Joan lovingly cared for him, too—until the very end.

In the early morning hours of Christmas day, with Joan by his side at the lake home he so loved, Ralph peacefully passed away under the care of Hospice of the Red River Valley. Because of Ralph’s rapid decline, Joan was overcome with shock and sorrow. She began channeling her emotions into her handmade creations as a way to handle the uncertainty and loneliness of the days and months ahead.

Years before, after picking up an instructional book, Joan had taught herself how to crochet. And now, her fingers and mind have found solace in the rhythmic motion of crocheting. “Making these lap robes have helped me with my grief so much,” Joan shared.

Joan's quilt stackTo make each blanket, it takes Joan a minimum of 10 hours. And, after hundreds of hours, several patterns and countless bundles of yarn, Joan has meticulously made 14 intricate, brightly colored, crocheted lap blankets. Adding to her homemade gifts, she made a dozen bib aprons, complete with pockets and finished with lace trim. Joan decided to share her creations with Hospice of the Red River Valley by donating all of her handiwork to patients. “I hope these blankets and aprons will brighten someone’s day,” Joan said.

Crocheting blankets is just one of the many ways Joan copes with her grief. Even though Ralph was only cared for by Hospice for a short time, less than two days, Joan has the option to receive grief support care and resources from Hospice of the Red River Valley for 13 months. She attended a grief support group offered by Hospice and visited with a Hospice grief specialist. “It’s very helpful to visit with people with similar experiences,” Joan said of the grief support group.

Joan_apronsAt age 88, Joan shows no signs of slowing down. Joan exercises three times each week at the local community center, tries her luck at the casino on Thursdays and plays games on the Internet each night before bed. “I even found some crochet patterns online,” Joan proudly shared.

Joan has found herself in a “whole new life.” While she still deeply misses Ralph, she’s learned to continue on, one crocheted row at a time.

Upcoming Events

We have several upcoming community events that benefit Hospice of the Red River Valley. We hope to see you there!

Go Hawaiian for Hospice
Thursday, June 25, 2015
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Choice Financial: 4501 23rd Ave. S., Fargo

Choice Financial invites the community to Go Hawaiian for Hospice! Join us for the 3rd annual luau lunch fundraiser. For a suggested donation of $5, attendees will feast on a pig roast, baked potato, fresh pineapple, Hawaiian Punch and a frozen treat. By making a donation of $25 or more, you will receive a $25 gift certificate for Maxwells (one per person)!

Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament
Sunday & Monday, June 28-29, 2015
Rose Creek Golf Course, Fargo

The 32nd Annual Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament will take place June 28-29 at Rose Creek Golf Course. To view the 2015 schedule of events or to register to golf, visit rogermarisgolf.com.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/05/19/a-labor-of-love-becomes-a-form-of-healing/

May 05

Area Man Flies Tandem with Hospice of the Red River Valley

Stewart ‘Stew’ Bass’ legacy has taken flight. As a WWII veteran pilot, he was personally involved in sinking the Yamoto, a large Japanese aircraft carrier, which marked a turning point in WWII and earned him a Navy Cross—one of the highest honors the Navy bestows. Through sharing his experiences in aviation, Stew touched many lives in the Fargo-Moorhead community—and beyond—while preserving a piece of history.

“He was living history for WWII, telling people what it was really like,” Kathy, Stew’s daughter, said. “There weren’t many of those people left so historians dogged his heels for the last several years to pick his brain for all these things [related to the war]. He was always very glad to do it, but he was very humble about it.” So humble, indeed, that Kathy recalled he never spoke of his involvement with the war when her and her brother were growing up.

It wasn’t until Stew became involved in the Fargo Air Museum that he really started sharing his knowledge about this valuable piece history. “My involvement in the Air Museum was rather natural when it opened up and got started. I said, ‘Gosh, I’ve got to go over there and see what’s going on,’” Stew described. “So I did and I volunteered immediately, and I’ve been there ever since. They called me the lead volunteer.”

“When he started working for the Air Museum, I think he realized how important those stories could be to others,” Kathy explained. “And then he started talking about his part as a pilot, and people got a hold of this information and started calling from the East Coast, the West Coast, almost everywhere. Pretty soon, he was sharing his stories, which were all new to the family.”

Stew BassIn an industry overwhelmed with acronyms and jargon, at the Fargo Air Museum Stew’s sole purpose was to educate. “Nobody seemed to know what a carrier was so that’s what I’ve been doing, telling them what a carrier is, what an air group is, what a group of planes are and so on. I have given speech after speech,” Stew said. “It makes you feel better when you do something worthwhile. And I had a good time, and I enjoyed doing it.”

As big as his passion for aviation, Stew’s positivity, sense of humor and warm smile were always bigger. “He was always a very positive person,” Kathy described. “Even when I was a little girl, he would say, ‘We can do this. It’ll work. Don’t worry, we can fix it. Let’s give it a try.’ No matter what it was—even if you knew it wouldn’t work.”

So when Stew was faced with hospitalization after hospitalization in late 2014, his declining health, which was largely because of heart and kidney failure, slowed him down and dampened an otherwise vibrant person. Stew, along with his family, decided it was time for him to move into an assisted living facility in Fergus Falls, where he could be closer to family. Soon after, Stew began receiving care from Hospice of the Red River Valley.

At 93, Stew was used to his independence—and going, going, going all the time. “This was one of the hardest things for him, to have to be cared for. I think the Hospice nurse really helped him accept his diagnosis. Because up until then, he did not believe he was going down. I credit Courtney [Hospice nurse] for having that heart to heart talk with him. He heard her,” Kathy shared. “I think Hospice made a huge difference. It was the best thing to happen. The visits and encouragement were a really important part. They [Hospice staff] were wonderful to him.”

Stew couldn’t have agreed more. “I have a lot of good to say about Hospice. The biggest thing is that they [Hospice staff] always bring lightness and bring things back into focus—how good things really are,” Stew said. “They always get their job done well. They give that feeling of positivity and that everything’s going to be all right. They’re there to take care of you.”

Stew especially appreciated visits from Hospice of the Red River Valley chaplain, Lauryl, as he neared the end of life. Together, they had deep conversations and discussed questions, such as ‘How do you explain death? What is it? What triggers it? What stops it?’ Stew found comfort in the ease of conversation with Lauryl. “She’s easy to talk to,” he explained. “I think she’s really been able to help with some ‘why’ answers.”

“Stew was a person of deep faith and rich life experiences, but he was also a very humble man. While on hospice, he focused on living and spending time with family; he was so proud of them all,” Lauryl shared. “Stew told me he wasn’t afraid of dying, but in the last couple of weeks the ‘waiting’ was a challenge. One day he told me, ‘Dying isn’t what I expected, you have to have patience, and you have to be very honest and straightforward.’ Stew had those qualities; he was the kind of great man whose joy in life, gratitude for family and friends, and humble, honest faith inspired us all.”

Kathy noticed after Stew’s talks with Lauryl, her dad felt better. And, she felt peace of mind knowing a team of Hospice experts were caring for him. “They did a lot to help with his pain. That’s the biggest deal. I knew he was being well cared for and managed, and his pain was under control; they were on top of it. If he needed anything, it was there. I felt a wonderful peace that he was cared for like we would want him to be cared for,” Kathy said.

Having worked in health care as a nurse herself, Kathy knows the significance of a team effort and the importance of being kept informed. “I felt like we were a part of the team, and I felt like I was in the loop of what was going on and that was wonderful. It took the burden off the family. They were always there if he needed something. If I called the nurse, she’d get right back to me. Hospice is very well-rounded, and I think that made a big difference,” Kathy shared.

Kathy’s frequent visits to Stew’s home in Fergus Falls, along with other family members, brightened his days. He said of his daughter with a smile, “That girl is absolutely something else. There’s no daughter in the world that could be any better that what she is. I just love her.”

As the days went by, Stew knew that any day he was surrounded by loved ones or Hospice of the Red River Valley, he was going to be all right. “Hospice has been so good, and I feel like they’re all specialists. When they leave, I feel like, by golly, I can make it another day. I think that’s one of the best things about Hospice, you have the feeling around you that they have a certain job of elevating you, and they really have you in mind and they’re trying their very best.”

Stew passed away peacefully, in his home, on March 23, 2015. It was Hospice of the Red River Valley’s honor to care for Stew—a true hero to so many.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/05/05/area-man-flies-tandem-with-hospice-of-the-red-river-valley/

Apr 21

How to Know if You’re a Caregiver: Signs to Recognize in Yourself and Others

Sharon DardisBy Sharon Dardis

If you’re a Scrabble player, perhaps you already know there are 144 possible word combinations contained in the word “caregiver.” Likewise, there are probably as many situations in which someone might be involved in a setting that would consider them a “caregiver.” How do you know if you’re one of them?

The Accidental Caregiver
My mother could have been labeled an “accidental caregiver.” She married my jitter-bugging, music-loving father in 1942, neither one of them knowing what the future held for them in terms of health challenges. My supposedly “hale and hearty” father, in his early 20s, had tried to enlist in the Army before he and mother married, but he was classified as 4-F (indicating he was medically unfit for service) because of a heart murmur. The story goes that he took the Army’s form stamped “4-F” at the induction center and put it on “the bottom of the paper piles” and tried going through the enlistment line again. They rejected him and sent him home. He was heartbroken. He had sold all his worldly belongings, even his guitar, thinking he was “off to the war!” He and my mother married shortly after, and seeking work, they took the Northern Pacific train, west to Seattle. My sister and I were born within the next six years. Only a couple years later, dad started having mini-strokes, associated with the untreated rheumatic fever he had as a kid. His mitral value, which lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle, had narrowed, his circulation was compromised and he was, for his remaining life, chronically and seriously ill. Slowly but surely, throughout the course of my childhood, my dad’s health deteriorated. My mother’s life as a caregiver, without fanfare or acknowledgement, had officially begun.

Continuous Caretaking
The term “caregiver” wasn’t officially used until around 1966. Before then, it was called “caretaking,” or as in our family’s case, was not even labeled or discussed. Mom worked full-time. Dad worked when he could. Mother took care of him, and somehow, we survived—quite happily, in fact. In 1956, my father traveled to the Twin Cities to become one of the first patients ever at the University of Minnesota Hospital to have major open heart surgery; a mitral heart value repair was done using the new (Think Medtronic!) heart-lung bypass machine. The surgery was a success and my father lived another five years, with a fairly good quality of life. I was 14 when he died.

Through it all, mother was the one who took care of him, my older sister and me. There was no label for what she was doing, nor did she point out specifically what it was she actually did. After my father died, in 1964, my mother, sister and I carried on. At age 42, five years following her widowhood, my mom married again. Her new life was amazing—a miracle—until, 10 years into that marriage, when my strapping, handsome and successful stepfather suddenly developed a rare neurological disease called spasmotic torticollis. And once again, accidentally, my mother assumed the role of caregiver. She never wavered, until the tables turned.

Although my stepfather struggled with his disease, he and my mom carried on with a fairly normal life until my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 70. Always an independent and proud woman, she was quite understandably devastated. Yet, she continued to care for my stepfather, taking him to neurological appointments, keeping his medical records and being his advocate. She was a fierce and tireless caregiver.

The Advocate
The Thanksgiving after her diagnosis, they traveled from Kansas to spend the holiday in Minnesota with us. My stepdad was exhausted and frantic, trying to map out the future with my mother, who was increasingly losing her grasp on reality. He and I had several brief opportunities that holiday weekend to talk alone, and in the end, I jotted down ideas on a notepad for him regarding my mom’s care to discuss with their doctor once they got back home. It was all good, knowing at least, that somehow I was helping. The long-distance caregiving, for me, as a daughter, was difficult. It was hard to stay engaged with mom’s care while having little say in the actual decision making. Giving my stepdad advice seemed helpful at the time, until my mom discovered the notes in his shirt pocket while she was doing his laundry after they got back home.

A few days after Thanksgiving, our phone rang late. I was already asleep. I answered the phone groggily and heard my mom’s voice, usually tender and loving with me—never confronting, now shrieking, saying I that had betrayed her trust. It took me a minute to even realize who this caller was. “Mom?” She sounded that foreign to me. “I’m the caregiver, Sharon!” she scolded, repeating this over and over again. “I’ll do the caregiving. I’ll do the caregiving here!” I cried myself to sleep. But mother had made her point.

Turning the Tables
So, who are the caregivers? How do we know when the tables have turned? And why is it important for us to even care? How can it make a difference in our experiences of caring for loved ones? Maybe it’s the importance of knowing the enemy, or identifying the diagnosis. If you can’t name it, you can’t treat it or fight it. Recognizing yourself as a caregiver, and then articulating what you need as a caregiver, is also a big step in the right direction.

In my mother’s case, although she had been diagnosed with dementia, she was remarkably able to continue to convince my stepdad that she was still in control. And in fact, she still did a pretty good job of caring for him. This was not always a good thing but because he was her husband and loved her unconditionally, he allowed her to call many of the shots. Trust me, there were a lot of “crisis management” moments for us as a family in those years. I’ve decided the only thing worse than being a caregiver in a situation like this is not being able to be the primary caregiver. As a daughter without a say in the final care of my mother, I suffered. We all did. And in the end, my mother, a caregiver to the end, had a major stroke and died knowing she’d done the best she could and more. Caregivers do the best they can with what they have to work with, and as is often the case, things don’t always happen as we have planned. Often accidental caregiving and uncertain outcomes ensue.

Am I a Caregiver?
So how do you know if you’re a caregiver? Last November, Comedian Jeff Foxworthy and caregiver/author Peter Rosenberger got together for National Caregivers’ Month and made light of this on a recent AARP website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJUyfrsJDCY “You know you’re a caregiver if you know your parents social security number but don’t know your own.” Or, “You know you’re a caregiving if you can open a heavy glass door with your butt while pushing a loved one’s wheelchair.” Humor helps. But realistically, if you take a loved one regularly to the doctor, or buy their groceries, or have a sibling with special needs whom you support, advocate for an ill spouse, or engage in long-distance care of a loved one, you are a caregiver. The important thing to recognize is that your caring role is important. What you do matters and to do it well, you need to name it. “I am the caregiver. I’ll do the caregiving here.” Step up. Name it, then care for your loved ones but also remember to care for the caregiver, too. Be able to recognize your own needs. And whether accidental, recognized or one of many or few, God bless caregivers and their loved ones, everywhere!

Sharon Dardis, RN, BSN, is a former Hospice of the Red River Valley employee. Beginning as a volunteer, she later became a hospice staff nurse and bereavement specialist. Sharon developed and facilitated “Kids Grieve, Too,” for Hospice, a support and educational program for young people experiencing the death of a loved one. Moving to the Twin Cities in 1993, she helped develop and coordinate “Kids In Grief” another children’s grief support group in Stillwater, Minn. Now retired, Sharon is a board member of the Minnesota Coalition for Death Education and Support and also edits their quarterly newsletter, “Coalition News.” In 2000, Sharon coauthored and published, “As I Journey On: Meditations for Those Facing Death.” The proud mother of three and grandmother of eight, Sharon spends her time with husband, Stan, in St. Paul, Minn., and Alpine, Wyo.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://hospicerrvblog.areavoices.com/2015/04/21/how-to-know-if-youre-a-caregiver-signs-to-recognize-in-yourself-and-others/

Older posts «