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Tag Archive | "Hospice of Michigan"

IRVIN L. SMITH


 

20C--obit-SmithFCIrvin L. Smith, 67, of Sand Lake, died Friday, May 13, 2016 at his home with his family by his side. Irvin was born November 8, 1948 in Cedar Springs, Michigan, the son of Alvin and Ida (Spencer) Smith. He graduated from Kent City High School and was a veteran of the U.S. Army serving during the Vietnam War. He received a Silver Star and Purple Heart. He enjoyed being a mechanic, restoring tractors, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding. When he married Denise in 1998 he took in her children as his own. He had a heart of gold and would do anything for anybody. Surviving are his wife, Denise (Pope); children, Kevin (Connie) Smith, Ann (Aaron) Kindel; stepchildren, Chad (Jeannie) Fisk, Ken (Courtney) Fisk, Sherri (Ron) Potes; grandchildren, Ashley (Jeremiah) Strawderman, Nicole Smith, AJ, Austin and Alivia Kindel, Chase and Archer Fisk; brother, Ike (Joyce) Smith; parents-in-law, Keith (Shirley) Pope; brothers-in-law, Keith (Dixie) Pope, Mark Pope, Bill (Angela) Pope; several nieces and nephews; his baby girl, Stormy. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, Carol Lundquist; brother, David Smith. A private family memorial service will be held. Pastor Chuck Smith officiating. Military honors will be conducted by the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard. Memorials may be made to Hospice of Michigan or Friends of the Michigan Veterans Home.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home,
Cedar Springs.

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A Gift for families: financial planning at the end of life


Financial worries compound the stress that families feel when a loved one is dying. Judy Trepeck of the Michigan Association of CPAs led efforts to provide resources to help families be financially prepared for the end of life.

Financial worries compound the stress that families feel when a loved one is dying. Judy Trepeck of the Michigan Association of CPAs led efforts to provide resources to help families be financially prepared for the end of life.

Every day, when Judy Trepeck goes to the mailbox, she wonders if she’s going to find another bill she has to pay. That’s been pretty much the norm since her stepfather died four months ago, and she stepped in to manage his financial affairs.  She’s working through her grief and a myriad of issues related to settling his estate.

Our job as a survivor begins the day a loved one’s life ends,” said Trepeck, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer for the Michigan Association of CPAs. “What I’m learning now, for example, is that you have to give notice to creditors for four months in case someone has a claim against the estate. There’s a process that starts after death that needs to be managed, but nobody tells you about that.  Who knew?”

 Trepeck’s colleagues at MICPA knew. In fact, they convened a task force of certified public accountants from across the state to address the matter. After nine months of work, including some long nights during tax season, the organization produced Financial Affairs at the End of Life” for Hospice of Michigan patients and families.

The booklet, which can be downloaded at www.micpa.org, provides a wealth of assessment and planning tools designed to ensure families can be financially prepared for the end of life.  Sections range from caring for dependents to advanced directives to estate planning with a single goal in mind: Providing objective financial information and resources.

We had been talking at a Hospice of Michigan board meeting about the fact that social workers were often asked about financial issues for a family and didn’t have the resources or the wherewithal to answer those questions,” said Trepeck, who also serves on HOM’s board of directors. “We saw the need at MICPA to give social workers the objective information they needed to provide to the families from an honest broker standpoint, if you will. Our goal was to be a resource book that has all the information on the various things that families should think about, then gives them phone numbers or points them to websites.”

For MICPA, which has nearly 18,000 member-CPAs statewide, the opportunity to fill an educational need was motivation for the project.  For Hospice of Michigan, the largest non-profit provider of hospice and palliative care services in the state, the resulting booklet filled a gap.

We walk alongside patients and families during one of the most stressful times of life,” said Robert Cahill, president and CEO of Hospice of Michigan. “Financial worries compound that stress and magnify it. We are grateful to the MICPA for giving our social workers and clinicians a valuable tool for their toolboxes with ‘Financial Affairs.’

The booklet, which has gone through multiple revisions and updates, encourages families to start by gathering detailed information on their assets and liabilities.  Sections detail what kinds of information is needed, right down to the location of safety deposit boxes and a list of employer fringe benefits.

The Planning section focuses on family, offering lots of questions to prompt discussion before decisions are made when it comes to guardians, property and advanced directives. Whom does the patient trust? Whom do the children love and trust? Is this what the patient wants? Important but difficult conversations to have.

The section also covers the basic financial tools including life insurance, pensions and other retirement accounts, as well as basic estate planning including wills, probate and trusts.

An extensive “Meeting Financial Needs” section provides an overview on short-term and long-term expenses and commitments, which often undergo a significant shift during a prolonged illness or death. Accessing resources, managing affairs and handling funeral expenses are all covered at length.

The third and final section is the one Trepeck finds herself referring to a lot: “Survivor’s Issues.” It offers a practical timeline and checklist of tasks immediately after death, two weeks after, and a month after, detailing the types of benefits from Social Security, life insurance and retirement accounts that are available.

It’s a gift for people to be able to leave their families with detailed financial information and end-of-life directives,” Trepeck said. “While they may not be easy conversations to have, they are essential to a family’s peace of mind because during a serious illness or after a death, you’re not going to be able to get this information, let alone be in a frame of mind to process the conversation.

 

MICPA developed “Financial Affairs at the End of Life” for Hospice of Michigan patients and families. The booklet can be downloaded free of charge, along with the organization’s Financial Inventory, at https://www.micpa.org/resource-center/resources-for-the-public/financial-literacy.

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Hospice of Michigan to host Rejoice and Remember Memorial Service


ENT-HospiceOfMichiganHospice of Michigan will host a Rejoice and Remember memorial service to recognize lost loved ones on Tuesday, April 12.

During the service, participants will be invited to reflect on the many ways those who have died have touched their lives. The event will include special music, inspirational messages and a reading of names. Participants are invited to bring an item of remembrance to display and refreshments will be served.

The gathering will take place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE. This program is free and open to the community. Advance registration is requested.

The gardens, including the butterfly exhibit, will be available to tour free of charge from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information or to register, please call 616.356.5258.

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Family Conflict at End-of-Life


HEA-Hospice-Family-conflict-at-the-end

From Hospice of Michigan

When a family’s loved one is near the end of life, it can force everyone to endure financial and emotional strain, creating the perfect environment for new conflicts to arise and old ones to resurface.

Ramona Hancock, a Hospice of Michigan social worker, explains that the stress of losing a loved one, coupled with family disagreements, caregiver demands, financial struggles, cultural beliefs or the fear of death, can ignite a fuse.

As a social worker, one of Hancock’s many roles is often to help patients and their families resolve conflicts.

“In hospice, a social worker is the go-to person for anything not related to symptom management,” Hancock says. “That often means performing the role of a counselor to patients and their caregivers, although given the time frame, solving conflict at end-of-life is a lot more like crisis management than long-term counseling. Our goal is to help both the patient and the caregiver find peace and allow the patient to die comfortably.””

Hancock explains that conflict during a patient’s final days can make the dying process more challenging. And unresolved issues typically lead to a more difficult grieving process for family members. These are just some of the reasons it’s important to solve family conflict before death.

“One of the most common conflicts I see is when the family and patient are in a different place,” Hancock notes. “The patient has decided to forego medical treatment and has accepted life is nearing the end but the family isn’t ready. Another common conflict that arises is when the patient’s primary caregiver feels burned out or taken advantage of. The caregiver may direct anger at other family members who haven’t ‘stepped up.’ Sometimes the frustration is directed at the patient and, in these cases, anger is typically accompanied by guilt.”

Hancock says that regardless of what is causing the conflict, the first step in solving it is typically to listen to the patient and the family.

“While every situation is different, when I recognize conflict affecting a family, the first thing I usually do is talk to the patient and the family,” she explains. “I offer support, but let them determine what that support is. Often, people just want to talk. I try to remind the patient and family members to recognize and consider what the other person is feeling. That simple step often goes a long way in bringing the family together. When recognition and consideration of feelings aren’t enough, we can arrange a family meeting, which might even involve the nurse and social worker.

“At the end of the day, we try to remind the patient and family members the end-of-life transition is a meaningful time. It’s important for the family to be on the same page so the focus can be placed on spending quality time together in the time that’s left.”

Hancock explains that while HOM does everything in its power to bring a patient peace as the final days draw near, unfortunately, some conflicts are deeply rooted and too complicated to resolve.

“We walk into a small window of our patients lives. It’s important to recognize that there may have been a long history before we stepped in and events will continue to unfold after we’re gone,” Hancock adds. “While we do all we can to help the patient and family find peace, we must recognize that there are some things we just can’t fix. In these situations we focus on listening to our patients and helping them find acceptance.”

March is National Social Workers Month, and the theme this year is “Forging Solutions out of Challenges.”Hospice of Michigan would like to thank and acknowledge the important role that social workers play in hospice and palliative care. For more information on Hospice of Michigan and its services contact 888-247-5701 or visit www.hom.org. For more information on Social Workers Month and the value social workers provide in healthcare, visit www.socialworkers.org.

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The H Word: When is it time to call hospice?


When is it time to call hospice? While the H word scares people, Hospice of Michigan says that making the call early can enhance quality of life at the end of life.

When is it time to call hospice? While the H word scares people, Hospice of Michigan says that making the call early can enhance quality of life at the end of life.

Jane is suffering from cancer. It started in her liver and has now spread to her lungs and embedded in her bones. The chemo and radiation are not helping. But her doctor is yet to bring up hospice, the H word so many don’t want to hear.

Americans are a death-denying culture,” explains Dr. Michael Paletta, chief medical officer at Hospice of Michigan and hospice physician for 20 years. “Sometimes we don’t want to accept our own mortality. Often, patients wait until a doctor mentions end-of-life before they will even begin to wrap their minds around it. But, if patients don’t ask, doctors may continue to search out treatment options, even if a cure is unlikely.”

Paletta explains that doctors don’t always offer hospice as an option because they don’t want to deny patients a ray of hope. “Doctors take the decline and death of patients very personally,” Paletta said. They don’t want to be responsible for denying a patient the opportunity to recover, and they want to know they have done everything possible to cure their patients of illness.”

In modern medicine, it’s unusual for a doctor to feel there is nothing else to offer. There is always one more experimental drug or treatment to try; the question is what benefit will the treatment offer the patient and at what cost.

While a doctor may not want to deny hope, Paletta says it can be just as harmful to foster a patient’s unrealistic vision of recovery.

Hope comes in many shapes and forms,” Paletta said. “Instead of hoping for a cure that doesn’t exist, patients can hope to manage their pain and symptoms and improve their quality of life. This isn’t giving up hope; this is hoping for something that can actually happen and devoting energy to something that has proven to be valuable.”

Continue to pray for a miracle, but put things in place that will help you and your family. Perhaps the miracle provided is a controlled, dignified and peaceful ending of a celebrated life.

But when is the right time to consider hospice for you or your loved one?

If treatments are not going well, and if the treatment path the doctor initially laid out doesn’t seem to be working, it might be the right time to ask your doctor what’s next and when you should consider hospice,” Paletta explained. “If your doctor says it’s too soon to discuss hospice, try to get a better understanding of what the road ahead looks like in terms of treatment options. Ask when it will be appropriate to consider hospice and request specifics. This will help you gain a better understanding of the path you’re on and if you and your doctor have the same goals.”

If you aren’t satisfied with the plan your doctor has in place, seek a second option. I’m always surprised to hear that people don’t consult with another doctor. They seem to think this will offend the physician, but it’s usually welcomed. Good doctors realize that most of the time their recommendations are reinforced and a second option can actually enhance the faith and trust their patients have in them.”

Paletta notes that considering hospice isn’t a decision, it’s understanding your options. “Hospice is a choice that patients and families can make, but no one should ever be forced to make that decision,” Paletta said. “If you decide you’re not ready for hospice and you want to continue to seek out treatments, you can wait. And then it’s an informed waiting that has a specific end point rather than delaying or avoiding the decision.”

Paletta suggests that those suffering from a severe or terminal illness should contact hospice sooner rather than later, even if they aren’t necessarily ready to begin hospice care.

It’s always better for patients to reach out to a hospice organization early, rather than in a time of crisis. This gives them the time and ability to gather information about the services offered, choose the hospice organization that suits them best and make an informed decision. Hospice can even help with things like advanced directives and selecting a patient advocate.”

And perhaps most importantly, by looking into hospice options early in your illness, you’ve put yourself in a position where you can make the decision that’s right for you and take that pressure off your family.

For more information on Hospice of Michigan and the services it provides, contact 888.247.5701 or visit www.hom.org.

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Spiritual Care at the end-of-life


Hospice of Michigan spiritual care advisors help patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

Hospice of Michigan spiritual care advisors help patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

From Hospice of Michigan

When we are young and healthy, we can feel invincible. There’s plenty of time – and opportunity to solve life’s problems and make one’s mark.

But when faced with death, perspective can change quickly and so can priorities. This is when we begin to evaluate the meaning of life and contemplate the legacy we will leave behind.

Rev. Ronald White sees this time and time again.  As a spiritual care advisor with Hospice of Michigan, it’s White’s job and his mission to help hospice patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

“Many people assume spiritual care is about religion, and while it can be, it can mean something different to everyone,” White says. “Spiritual care is not intended to change patients’ belief system, but accept patients wherever they are on their journey and provide support at the end of life.

“When a person is dying, reality can hit hard. It’s often as they face the end that people look to find closure and mend relationships. This could be with God, family and friends or the world at large.”

The need for spiritual care differs from person to person. Some find solace in their religious faith; others may need to evaluate the meaning of their life or come to terms with important issues.

Spiritual care advisors like White provide support for patients and their families as physical, emotional and spiritual needs arise. This can mean helping patients through a journey of faith, reconnecting them with their church, helping to mend family rifts or simply listening to patients while they share things that are weighing on them.

Many times, when facing death, people seek forgiveness, White explains. “We’ll often try to reconnect family members and bring them together for a family meeting so they can sort through issues while there is still time. Many times we see that the family members don’t even remember what the disagreement was about, just that something happened. In circumstances like this, talking things out usually helps. But other times issues are deeply rooted and can’t be resolved. While we can’t fix all problems, we make our best effort.”

When you can’t mend a situation, White notes that sometimes it’s enough to just be there to listen.

“Letting patients tell their story and talk through problems can often lead to acceptance,” White says. “As spiritual care advisors, our conversations with patients are confidential. Sometimes patients have things weighing on them that they don’t want their family to know about, but they still need to share with someone. Knowing that we can be their confidant allows them to open up to us and find a sense of peace.”

White explains that some of his most important work is with veterans.

“Many veterans have a lot of guilt when they near the end-of-life,” White said. “They are dealing with things they saw or did in the name of war—often things they’ve never shared with anyone. When we work with vets, we know we can’t change what happened, so we spend a lot of time talking. We ask them about the duties they had, where they served and how they were involved. These questions can lead to meaningful conversations and often times helps veterans share the things that are weighing on them. Sometimes just talking through an issue with someone provides acceptance and closure.”

White notes that anxiety at end-of-life can cause unnecessary pain – which is why the role of a spiritual care advisor is so important.

“Providing comfort to patients and their families is our number one goal,” White adds. “Helping patients find solace and closure allows them to die a good death. This is something that provides peace for both the patient and their family.”

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Hospice of Michigan to host coping with holidays program


 

After a popular response, Hospice of Michigan will present three additional Coping with the Holidays, a free community outreach program in the Grand Rapids area that provides the bereaved with tips to deal with grief during a time when most are happy and expressing joy.

For those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, the holidays often elicit emotions of grief and sadness,” said Sue Glover, grief support services manager at Hospice of Michigan. “Though it may be a difficult time for those grieving, it can also be a wonderful time to remember a loved one’s memory. Our program is designed to give the bereaved the tools they need to once again enjoy this special time of year.”

HOM’s Coping with the Holidays program teaches that the holidays may be challenging but there are techniques to help handle grief and find comfort, such as:

*Planning ahead. Bereaved individuals who seem to have the most difficulty with the holidays are often those who have given little thought to the emotional challenges they will encounter.

*Accepting your limitations. Family and social pressures, in combination with decision-making challenges, can be overwhelming. Choose a few issues to deal with and limit the number of decisions you need to make so they won’t overwhelm you.

*Taking care of yourself. Exercising, eating a proper and balanced diet and getting the proper amount of rest are critical.  Avoid the temptation of excessive alcohol.

*Lowering expectations. Go easy on yourself and try not to overextend in order to reduce overall stress.

Events will be held:

Tuesday, Nov. 17 at Vista Springs Senior Living, 2708 Meyer Ave., SW, Wyoming from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 22 at Johnson Feuerstein Funeral Home, 203 S. Pleasant St., Belding from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 7 at Adams Park Apartments, 1440 Fuller Ave., SE, Grand Rapids from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

The Coping with the Holidays program is open to all those dealing with grief, whether a loved one died recently or decades ago.  Participants are invited to enjoy refreshments and listen as grief experts discuss holiday coping techniques such as planning ahead, accepting limitations and finding someone who will listen.

To register or receive additional support, please contact Glover at 616.356.5255 or sglover@hom.org.

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Back-to-School with grief  


Going back to school can be especially challenging for a child who has recently lost a loved one. Hospice of Michigan encourages parents and educators to understand the signs of childhood grief and then take steps to allow children the chance to grieve in a healthy, productive way.

Going back to school can be especially challenging for a child who has recently lost a loved one. Hospice of Michigan encourages parents and educators to understand the signs of childhood grief and then take steps to allow children the chance to grieve in a healthy, productive way.

While most kids will carry backpacks with books and school supplies when they return to the classroom, others will carry a much heavier and often invisible burden: the grief of losing a loved one.

“Going back to school can be especially challenging for a child coping with grief,” said Karen Monts, director of grief support services at Hospice of Michigan. “If a child has recently lost a parent, it can be difficult to hear other children talking about their families. And while father-daughter dances and grandparents day are special and fun-filled events, they can be painful reminders of loss to a grieving child.”

According to the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, approximately one in 20 U.S. children will lose a parent by the time they reach the age of 16. The vast majority of children experience a significant loss of a friend or relative by the time they complete high school. Monts encourages parents of a grieving child to reach out to the child’s school and alert staff to a recent death in the family. She also urges educators to equip themselves to help students suffering from grief. Books, websites and blogs about children and grief can all be great resources; www.kidsgrief.org is a good place to start.

“Grief isn’t something children can leave at home; it will follow them to school and they may turn to their teacher for help,” Monts said. “Teachers should have a private discussion with the student when he or she returns to school. Just having the conversation can validate and normalize the grieving child’s feelings. The teacher and guardian should also ask if it’s OK to let the class know about the death the student is coping with. The teacher can explain that while discussing the recent death with the class might be uncomfortable, it will make things easier in the long run.”

Monts warns that it can be difficult to recognize a child struggling with grief because it’s often a feeling young children in particular can’t verbalize. Instead, feelings of grief in children typically come out in behaviors and actions. Some signs that a child might be having a hard time coping include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Increasingly anxious about being left alone
  • Regression to a previous stage of development
  • Problems sleeping or change in appetite
  • Falling grades or refusal to go to school
  • Frequent tearful outbursts
  • Constantly imitating or repeatedly stating that he or she wants to join the deceased

If educators recognize these symptoms in students, they should alert a parent or guardian. There are also things a teacher can do to help a student suffering from grief, including:

  • Comfort the child by being patient, spending extra time and letting the student know he or she is not alone.
  • Acknowledge the child’s loss and grief.
  • Listen, which can validate the child’s feelings, and make sure the child isn’t taking responsibility for the death.
  • Explain that strong feelings of sadness, fear, anger, etc. are normal and encourage the child to express these feelings.

If symptoms become severe, the school, parent or guardian might consider involving a social worker or counselor.

While school can present additional challenges for a grieving child, Monts explains that it can also be an escape. “When a family experiences a significant loss, life at home can become very sad and school can be a great diversion,” Monts said. “This is especially true if the classroom is a healthy place and the teacher has created a caring atmosphere that allows the child to share their feelings in a non-judgmental environment.”

Grief is a personal and individual experience that takes place over time. While it may take some children years to work through their grief, Monts explains that by working together, parents and educators can provide children with a better opportunity to grieve in a healthy, productive way.

Hospice of Michigan partners with other organizations and offers a variety of grief support and educational services, including individual visits, support groups and educational programs. Our services are available to all families involved with Hospice of Michigan as well as the community at large. For more information on any of the services we offer, visit www.hom.org.

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Loss of spouse grief support program


 

Hospice of Michigan will host a Loss of Spouse grief support program on Aug. 19.

The program will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Hospice of Michigan’s office, 989 Spaulding Ave. SE in Ada, and will feature a presentation from Ron Gries, author of Through Death to Life. Gries’ book is a collection of poetry and prose he wrote during his wife’s five-year battle with cancer, which eventually took her life. During his presentation, Gries will reflect on his experience and discuss dying, living, grief, healing and hope.

The program is free and open to the community. Advance registration is required. For more information or to register, please contact Sue Glover at 616.356.5255 or sglover@hom.org.

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From reluctance to relief: Hospice offers peace of mind


Patricia Van Pelt with a photo of her parents. Hospice made a difference when dealing with her father’s death.

Patricia Van Pelt with a photo of her parents. Hospice made a difference when dealing with her father’s death.

When Harvey Van Pelt was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012, his daughters knew he had a long and difficult fight ahead of him but the diagnosis was one that would likely kill him.

Patricia and her four siblings set out on a two-year journey with their then 84-year-old father to battle back the disease. He endured rounds of chemo and radiation, doctor visits and hospital stays that kept him from his Port Huron home and from the bedside of his wife of 60-plus years, Hazel, who was waging own struggle against the ravages of Alzheimer’s.

In fall 2014, Patricia, Nancy, Mary, Susan and John realized that the treatment for their father’s cancer had actually become worse than the disease itself. After talking with their father, they made the incredibly difficult decision to stop treatment but they still were not ready for hospice.

“We were still very reluctant to call hospice,” recalls Patricia, senior vice president and affiliate head of retail banking at Fifth Third Bank, who now lives in Grand Rapids. “You have to be ready to admit that you have reached the end. In the final few weeks, though, we could no longer keep my father comfortable. That tipping point finally pushed our decision. We wanted him to be comfortable. He did not want to die in a hospital with tubes everywhere. Our only option was to try hospice, so that is what we did.”

The family noticed an immediate difference in their father. Their Hospice of Michigan nurse brought in a different bed with a foam egg crate so Harvey would be more comfortable. The nurse started pain management, which provided the comfort that Patricia and her siblings could no longer give.

Their Hospice of Michigan nurse also answered their questions about what happens to the body at end of life, giving them signs to watch for in their father.  Together, they made decisions about who to contact when he died, what funeral home to call and how the service would be handled.

“Having hospice really helped ease my father’s suffering toward the end,” Patricia recalled. “Just as important, though, it gave the family support and helped us understand what was going to happen when he passed. Those last few days were very difficult, but when it ended, we made one phone call and had someone step in to handle a lot of those details. The last thing you want to be worried about at that moment are the details.  You want to be with your family.”

Less than 18 months later, Patricia and her siblings found themselves facing the end of their mother’s life, although they did not know it at the time. As is often the case with Alzheimer’s, Hazel’s decline was long and slow. Her health had peaks and valleys, including a last bout of pneumonia.

When they noticed their mother was developing a sore on her leg, they agreed they needed to get an egg crate for her, but when they started calling around, they realized the closest place was a 90-minute drive.

Hazel Van Pelt died the following day, too quickly for Patricia and her siblings to call hospice. The difference in the deaths of her parents was startling, Patricia recalled.

“My mother ended up passing much quicker than we imagined she would,” Patricia remembered. “We were faced with not knowing what to do next. We did not have hospice to call, so we had to call the sheriff or 911. The ambulance had to come out to check my mother’s vital signs and see if they could revive her before pronouncing her dead. It was hours before the funeral home could remove her body. There were things that had to happen that I did not even realize because HOM handled them with my dad. I did not realize the difference until I had these two experiences side by side.”

Hospice of Michigan nurse Melody Walker knows firsthand how tough it is to make that call. Her father died in hospice care a year after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

“One of our final conversations was when he asked me, ‘How do you know when it is time to stop all this nonsense?’” Melody recalled. “I told him, as I tell all my patients and families, ‘you will know in your heart.’ Everyone’s journey is their own. All the things you have been through will impact that final journey.  As a hospice nurse, I cannot add more days to someone’s life but I can do my best to add more life to their days.”

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