Posts Tagged Hospice
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.
Below is my list (include any additional items that come to mind)
According to this 2015 article from New York Times, federal statistics showed that “nearly half of white Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in hospice before death, compared with only a third of black patients”. The article said that black Americans are far more likely than white Americans to choose life-sustaining interventions.
Black Americans tended to have more mistrust for the medical community and a lack of education as to the benefits of hospice care. In this regard, it is imperative for hospice workers to reach out to this community through education (Hospice 101) and the sharing of how the program has positively impacted the lives of African-Americans in particular.
I recently read an article by a doctor who gave his perspective on caring for the elderly. It was very interesting and gave great insight into the American view of death.
Approximately 100 to 150 years ago, American life was predominantly rural. Life on the farm is much different than life in an urban setting. Two things happened to individuals who lived on the farm. First, multiple generations lived together under one roof. Children were able to observe not only the lives of their parents, but the personal struggles of their grandparents. The family unit took care of grandma and grandpa as they aged. As the family cared for their aging grandparents, they were able to experience first-hand the aging process in its entirety. Secondly, life on the farm meant children observed the birth, life, and death of animals. There was an intimate connection with the full circle of life. Death was seen as natural part of that cycle.
The decision to write my first entry on this topic is in honor of my friend whose spouse is in the process of dying; being cared for by his loving wife and Hospice staff in Georgia.
Consider how many years most of us spend with our parents (around 18) and how many more we typically spend with a spouse. A spouse is our greatest confidant, one who knows our intimate secrets- the best and worst in us. Even after difficult times in marriage, individuals will often define their spouse as their best friend; their closest companion.
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