Archive for Volunteers

Take Advantage of Hospice!

A friend’s grandmother recently entered hospice care. (Which, for confidentiality’s sake, may not be correct. It’s not his grandmother. And my friend could be a her rather than a his.)

This is all you need to know: my friend is tired. Caring for a loved one is exhausting.

Soon after the grandmother entered hospice, my friend planned respite time because of being weary and worn down. 

What? Respite? What’s that?

The Medicare benefits of hospice allow for an occasional “break” for caregivers. At the hospice where I work, that means a patient could spend several days away from their home and stay at our inpatient facility, a modified suburban house. With only six beds, space isn’t guaranteed. But if there’s a bed, a parent or spouse or other beloved can be supported while the primary caregiver rests—gets respite. There are other choices, such as briefly entering a skilled nursing facility or hospital. All hospices will have suggested options for respite time. Ask one of the hospice staff. They will have an answer. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

As a Hospice Volunteer, I Did Nothing

I did nothing.

Well, that’s not correct since I finished several chapters in the book I was reading.

I did nothing.

That’s not correct either, since I quietly eased down the hallway on several occasions to listen to the patient’s breathing. I was cautioned that he had a soft voice and would always say he was fine or didn’t need anything, even if he wasn’t fine and had needs. Best to listen carefully!

I did nothing . . . unless being ready to answer the door before a visitor pressed the doorbell or prepared to answer the phone before it rang for too long count as something.

As a hospice volunteer on one of my first assignments, I mostly did that “nothing.” After my training (I’ll mention more about that in a bit), I was ready to help! The Volunteer Coordinator had called, asked if I could go over to a family and patient’s home for an hour or two later in the week. I said sure. My task? Make sure the patient wasn’t alone. While I sat in the living room, present and available if “anything” happened, the patient’s weary wife did her grocery shopping.

I read a book. I stood in the hallway and listened. And then I welcomed a patient’s wife home, helped bring the groceries in, and was gone. Before leaving, the wife profusely thanked me . . . for nothing.

The patient died a few weeks later. It was my only visit.

Maybe a month later, I received a request from the hospice’s Volunteer Coordinator: one of the other volunteers couldn’t do their regular weekly visit with a patient. This fella was by himself for a predictable time during the week and everyone—the family and hospice medical staff—didn’t want him to be alone. Get a volunteer!

I filled in. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

I’ll Think About Hospice Tomorrow!

GWTH.1

The 1967 re-release poster…

“Oh, I can’t think about this now! I’ll go crazy if I do! I’ll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. I must think about it. What is there to do? What is there that matters? Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all . . . tomorrow is another day,” Scarlett O’Hara famously said in a tearful close-up at the end of 1939’s Gone With the Wind.

Then the music swelled, and soon the final credits rolled as—viewers may forever assume—the always-scheming Scarlett schemed to rebuild Tara and perhaps get Rhett back and, well, keep living like there were 10,000 tomorrows.

Ah, all those tomorrows! Which finally leads me to ask: what’s your excuse for avoiding hospice? Though hospice has been a Medicare benefit since 1982, it remains a stereotypical “blissful” subject for many. Isn’t ignorance . . . bliss?

  1. I’m not that sick. Go bother someone near death’s door!
  2. I’ll be better soon. I’ve always bounced back before.
  3. No one’s giving me any dopey drugs. I have stuff to do!
  4. If you mention death, I’ll probably start to die! So be quiet!
  5. Hospice is for those dying from cancer . . . I don’t have cancer!

Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather