Hospice Volunteers: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things

For Abode Hospice & Home Health, hospice affirms life. And when in hospice care it is likely you have an interdisciplinary team consisting of kind and skilled nurses, medical directors, aids, social workers, chaplains, and hospice volunteers all practicing a holistic tailored approach.

So, who are the ordinary people doing extraordinary things? Well everyone on your team, but today we are recognizing why hospice volunteers can have such an important role in end-of-life care.

A hospice volunteer is considered so

meone who has the ability to share their heart and watch others’ hearts grow as time passes, sharing a connectedness. For some, it may be the only other heart around and for others it could be adding to the love shared within a family. The capacity to go about serving selflessly is an act only some are capable of and are the ones who represent Abode Hospice & Home Health undoubtedly.

Hospice volunteers are there to see what patients needs are and help fulfill them. Our volunteers accomplish a multitude of things from providing companionship and support, to lending a helping hand around the house, talking, going on a stroll with or reading to the patient, to helping with fulfilling final wishes, and anything else that can be thought of in-between. The support the Abode Hospice & Home Health volunteer team is able to provide goes above and beyond what is expected.

In other words, a hospice volunteer is there to help enhance the patient’s quality of life in many ways. Having volunteers only helps increase the scope of the care to help provide more relief, comfort, and sometimes just to simply take your mind off things.

In volunteering instances, it is not only the patient’s quality of life improving but the same is also happening for the volunteer. When volunteering, a sense of purpose is met which can bring fun and fulfillment to your life. Not only that but it is a way to increase social and relationship skills. Our volunteers at Abode Hospice & Home Health form bonds with our patients and their families holding them near in their hearts.

If we wanted to get scientific with why volunteering is helpful to not only the patient but the volunteer as well, researchers from London School of Economics found that “helping others kindles happiness…”. If you think hospice volunteering is right for you please feel free to contact Laura Ehmann at Laura.Ehmann@premierhospiceaz.com

To find out more about how Abode Hospice services can benefit your loved one, please contact us.

Caring Services For A Caring Person: Raising Awareness for ALS

Roy Mass giving a thumbs up in raising awareness for ALS

Roy Mass giving the camera a thumbs up in raising awareness for ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease for his loved wife Nicole.

Roy Mass knows what it is like to push through the pain when your mind tells you to stop. Like his previous grueling Ironman Triathalons, on race day he relied on his “bank” of training and his commitment to his wife Nicole. However, the race in Boulder, CO had a dramatic difference: Nicole wasn’t holding her artsy sign or cheering encouraging words.

“It was strange because I’ll never have her there with me again to support me,” Roy said. “I had motivation to race for her. On the run it boiled down to reminding myself I was doing it for Nicole.”

In fact, the words “For my Nicole,” were written on top of a blue rose on Roy’s jersey to raise awareness for ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Thankfully, with support from Abode Hospice & Home Health, Nicole’s deteriorating health did not keep her from watching Roy’s race.

“A Hospice volunteer and her husband spent all day cheering me on and taking pictures and videos,” Roy said. “They posted videos and pictures to my Facebook (page) throughout the race for Nicole to see while she was at home … Since Nicole couldn’t make a sign for me, I made a sign for her and at miles 7 and 19 I got to see the sign.”

Besides bringing community awareness of ALS during events such as Roy’s Ironman race, Abode has provided skilled nurses, certified nursing assistants (CNA), medical social workers, volunteers, and holistic, home healthcare services for Nicole.
As a fulltime, certified dietary manager in the Army, Roy relies on exceptional support, specialized, and loving care from Abode.
“When I was on 24-hour duty, Abode rotated someone through every hour to help me, from nurses to chaplains to social workers, “ Roy said. “Every hour, someone new came, just to make sure someone was in the house with Nicole. Volunteers kept Nicole company, just so I could get out of the house and work or get something done.”

For 24 years Roy and Nicole have built a life together. They have enjoyed fast-paced hockey games, strolls through the top zoos in the country, marveled at sceneries like Alaska, and explored other sweet spots coordinated around Roy’s racing plans.
Roy’s nearly 19-year stint in the Army often kept them apart, but Nicole made sure their marriage stayed solid.
“She (Nicole) always did a really great job taking care of people,” Roy said. “During my deployments, she would go to the dollar store to pickup little toys and send care packages every month, tailoring them around holidays. She knew what seasons she could send chocolate. She always sent another jar of peanut butter. She knew the soldiers’ favorites.”
Now, the tide has turned, and Abode is helping Roy take care of Nicole. Abode offers comfort, and relief to her body, mind and spirit. The Abode nurse comes out everyday to do physical assessments, wound care, order medical supplies, manage her pain and even paint her nails.“Abode manages her health needs very well,” Roy said. “They give her baths, help her get ready for bed and provide general hygiene. A specific volunteer comes out and reads to Nicole or they watch a movie with her and just talk.”
Nicole has developed friendships with Abode employees and everyone at Abode knows who she is and makes a positive difference in her life.

“Currently, Tracy the volunteer is reading the Wizard of Oz,” Roy said. “Nicole didn’t care for the first book. Tracy the volunteer, told Linda the nurse that she made a funny face; she didn’t like it. She also loves watching Minon and Whinny the Pooh.”
Before diagnosed with ALS, Nicole was working on her RN degree. She enjoyed scrapbooking, creating beautiful, handmade cards and taking care of her family.

“Nicole has had some great CNAs from Abode. Especially since it’s her field, Nicole knows right off the bat if the nurse knew what he or she was doing. Can’t fake competence with Nicole,” laughed Roy.
Roy and Nicole are thankful for Abode’s interdisciplinary teamwork and reliable communication skills.
“The biggest thing is Abode hospice can really reach out and help you in sticky situations,” Roy said. “They helped cover me until I got someone over one time, and they have a lot of resources that they can put you in touch with.”

To find out more about Abode Hospice services can benefit your loved on, contact us.

The Importance of Chaplains

At certain times throughout life we are reminded that the mind, body, and spirit all share a connectedness and at times need to be nurtured. Everyone has their unique situation which is important to consider, especially when hospice care is needed. In a hospice care setting, it’s necessary to feel every aspect of support is actively being cared for.

Today, healthcare providers have come to realize patients want a holistic approach to well-being which is where hospice chaplains come into play. Hospice chaplains go beyond the constraints of medical practitioners by becoming spiritual caregivers or providers for the terminally ill and their loved ones. A chaplain is not a spiritual caregiver in a religious sense but are there to help support emotional and spiritual health along the journey. During times like so, it is comforting to find relief.

Relief comes in different forms and is individualistic to the person in need. Chaplains cater to all individuals’ religious and non-religious experiences. The foundation of this practice is to provide an active presence and a listening body. Chaplains take into account the emotional, physical, and mental stressors to provide the most appropriate care.

Fortunately, chaplains are not alone. They work with a hospice team that consists of physicians, volunteers, dietitians, and various health aides. The team is coordinated with a medical manager putting into action the best end of life care plan for your loved ones. These professionals are here to provide comfort in all forms for patients and loved ones through care of the mind and body.

To find out more about Abode Hospice services can benefit your loved on, please contact us.

Free Caregiver Support Groups

Free Caregiver Support Groups Offered at Local Coffee Houses

As a caregiver for a loved one, whether they are at home, in a care facility or miles away, you’re likely to face a host of new responsibilities, many of which are unfamiliar or intimidating. At times, you may feel overwhelmed and alone. All caregivers need respite, resources and reassuring support from others.

Thursday Mornings10 to 11:15 am
Café 225 225 N. Weber, CO Springs 80903

Thursday Evenings6 to 7:15 pm
Peak Place Coffee House2360 Montebello Square, Suite H1, Colorado Springs 80918

Knowing the complex schedules of caregivers, the groups are on a come-as-you-are-able basis.
All sessions are free and welcoming to any caregivers in the community.  Please join us.

Facilitator:  RoMa Johnson, MA, MDiv, Abode Chaplain
For more information contact the Abode Hospice office, 719-358-6428.

A Love Story-This is Hospice

Abode recently signed on a patient to our hospice services who lives with her husband of over 60 years in an Independent Living Community.  Their story is…between the loving husband and devoted wife: they make a whole.

Unexpectedly, the husband is now hospitalized.  Our patient is being cared for at home, by an adult son, with the support of Abode Hospice.  Ah yes, the adult son, now the primary caregiver, who also has his life challenges, quickly realizing that this is not an ideal situation.  Sound familiar?  In order to support him, and ensure that our patient receives the care needed in a safe, nurturing environment, we have arranged a respite stay.

This wife is hesitant to leave her home, worried that when her husband returns, that they will not be together again.  After 60+ years of wedded bliss and understanding her terminal diagnosis, there is nothing more important than being with her husband!

Thanks to our wonderful community partners and hospice team, we found a Care Community that is accepting the husband for rehab, and welcoming our patient to respite at the same time…all the while, staying together!

The couple will most likely transition to an Assisted Living apartment in this community, continuing their life journey, for the time they have left…being together.  We are honoring the final chapter of their Love Story!

THIS IS HOSPICE!

To make more love stories with Abode Hospice, contact us today!

Cowgirl Forever In Our Hearts

14715688_1785946188330728_2735277889522117544_oThanks to Abode Hospice, 89-year-old Ruth is living her final days surrounded by family and friends. Ruth counts the hospice team members among those friends. Such relationships are possible because Abode’s caring professionals believe in the simple Golden Rule. “We treat others the way we want to be treated.”

Abode Hospice provides a full range of services to ensure that Ruth has everything she needs to be comfortable at Forest Ridge, the skilled nursing facility where she resides. This includes an expert registered nurse for symptom management, a chaplain for spiritual support, a social worker for emotional and community support, a certified nursing assistant for companionship and personal care, and volunteers for additional TLC. Abode staff members consider themselves extensions of Ruth’s family and the Forest Ridge staff. “Our goal as an agency is to team up with the facilities we work with in order to provide the best care possible for our patients and families.”

“I am very happy and blessed to have Abode come in and work with Ruth,” says Mary Ann, Ruth’s surrogate daughter. Ruth never had children, but considers MaryAnn her own. “Ruth was that extraordinary person I was blessed to have in my life,” says Mary Ann, “She did extra special things with me. My first train ride to New York and first play.” MaryAnn called in hospice upon learning she would be in Maryland for 7 weeks taking care of Ruth’s estate. “I wanted Ruth to have an extra level of care and ensure health professionals would be looking in on her frequently.”

Abode provided Ruth with that care, and went above and beyond what many other hospices would have done. Before moving from Maryland, Ruth told friends she was going West in search of a cowboy with a Palomino horse. So, when Mary Ann expressed an interest to take Ruth on a equestrian outing, the Abode team proceeded to check out what options were available. With that information Mary Ann contacted a local guest ranch and set a date. As an example of the extra care and concern shown by Abode, they made all the arrangements for a very special day including transportation and a delicious picnic lunch. Ruth’s caretakers made her wheelchair into an “all-terrain” vehicle, pushing her out into the pasture. There she spent much of the afternoon with a beautiful Palomino pony named Vanilla Oreo. She got such pleasure feeding carrots to this gentle horse under the attentive care of an authentic handsome Colorado cowboy.

Ruth spent her time on the ranch cuddled in a plaid comforter with a genuine smile on her face and a horse nuzzling his face next to hers. A “therapeutic day” for all lives touched by Ruth; a remarkable woman who used to ride horses bareback, speed across the river on her water skis,  corner tight turns on her motor bike and at 50+ years of age, took karate lessons. Her body and mind may have failed her, but there is no shortage of support from loved ones and her healthcare “cheerleaders” helping her enjoy life to its fullest.

What’s the takeaway message from Ruth story? When family is faced with the responsibility of caring for a failing loved one, it’s okay, and even admirable, to ask for help. Though the word hospice is often interpreted in a negative fashion, in reality hospice services can provide positive benefits that help people live their days with comfort, respect and dignity. To find out more about hospice and how Abode hospice services can benefit your loved one, please contact us.

The Gift of Volunteering for Hospice

I never know what to expect when I enter a room where a patient is close to leaving this world for the next. Sometimes the patient is alone, and sometimes family members are present. I’m immediately drawn to the patient’s side at which point all other thoughts leave me and I focus on the patient. I’m honored to hold a cool hand, brush back wisps of hair from the forehead and quietly speak to hopefully convey to the patient they are not alone. I may read to them, or just have a chat, knowing I won’t get an answer.

 

If family is present, my first question is always: tell me about your mom, dad,etc. I hear stories of a life lived, thrilling vacations, troubles encountered, and of course, family interrupted by grief. I feel privileged to be available to them, to share their thoughts, and to answer their questions.

 

My favorite hospice experience: spending time with a lovely woman, who was at the bedside of her husband of many years. She had sadly said her goodbyes and was keeping watch. She told me stories of their life together and we were laughing and enjoying the memories. I was watching changes in her husband as we were talking and realized during a particularly funny story, that he passed. I let her finish and I stood and checked her husband. I then turned to her and told her he had left. She was astonished that the passing was so peaceful! She said she felt he knew it was ok to leave! The joy on her face despite her sadness was a sight I’ll remember always. I’m blessed to be a part of the process.

Sandy, Hospice Volunteer

For more information or to volunteer with Abode Hospice, please contact us.

 

Abode Home Care: Promoting Independence for Seniors

Promoting Independence in Senior with In-Home Health Care

Independence is an important aspect in helping a person determining their self-worth. As people, we start off as children who need help just getting from place to place, then teenagers who just need financial aid to support them, and then eventually into full-fledged adults that function for the most part on their own. But as people reach their later stage of adulthood, it becomes apparent that it’s harder for them to maintain this level of independence. Seniors often feel like having in-home care is the end of their independence, but this is far from the case.

While it’s not always easy to admit, sometimes it’s necessary to recognize that as a senior, some extra care and attention might need to be administered by someone else. But just acknowledging this fact is a sign that you’re aware that such care can actually enhance your independence as you age. These in-home care professionals can provide interactions with their patients and give them the help that they need to stay healthy and stimulated. In addition to this, there are few things to remember that will prolong the independent stage of a senior’s life.

  • Stay physically active
    • Doing small tasks around the house or community like gardening, walking, stretching, and housekeeping are all ways to keep the body stimulated and prevent it from aging prematurely. Always make sure to listen to your doctor and your body though when doing physical activities to ensure that you don’t strain yourself unnecessarily.
  • Socialize often
    • So many changes often occur at the senior stage of life, so it’s important for them to have some sort of routine. A fun way to do this is to have a scheduled time to hang out with friends and family to ensure that love and laughter continue in a consistent manner while things around them begin to change.
  • Stay mentally stimulated
    • A lack of activity and stimulation of the brain is often what drives most seniors into being more forgetful people. Just something as simple as crosswords and Sudoku puzzles can be enough to give the brain a metaphorical jog to keep it in shape and keep the person on the right track to longevity.

These are just simple aspects that can help individuals maintain that individuality on their own. However, in addition to these practices, in-home healthcare like that which is provided by Abode Hospice and Home Health can almost guarantee a stronger and more independent individual as they experience this new phase of their life.

When it’s more than a job…

Yes, it’s our job. Yes, we attended school to bring cutting-edge services to your doorstep, but it’s so much more than that. To say we are privileged to serve our families would be an understatement. Our families often don’t realize how special THEY are to us. While we are caring for a loved one, families are, in turn, blessing our staff. One of the greatest compliments we receive is when a patient’s family offers to help us with our mission. “PS — if there is ever a need I can help with, it’s yours. Please don’t hesitate to call.”

Abode Note