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National Doctors’ Day: Physicians & COVID

By: Laura Mantine, MD

“Wear the white coat with dignity and pride, it is an honor and privilege to get to serve the public as a physician.”

― Bill H. Warren

National Doctors’ Day

Physicians display heroism and courage every day in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. National Doctors’ Day, celebrated on March 30th, is an annual observance aimed at appreciating physicians who help save lives everywhere. The holiday first started in 1933 in Winder, Georgia, and since then it has been honored every year. The idea came from Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, and the date was chosen as it marked the anniversary of the first use of general anesthesia in surgery.  This month, National Doctors’ Day continues to highlight many questions, concerns and fears about what the future of medicine holds. The COVID-19 pandemic has already left its indelible mark on American’s health and well-being.  Many doctors have courageously set aside their own fears to help those in need, lend a hand to an overburdened colleague, gather supplies and equipment for those who may soon go without, and accelerate the research to develop a vaccine or medication that may bring an end to this pandemic once and for all.

Toll of COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold and upend American life, physicians, nurses, and the health care workforce are leading a remarkable response effort by putting their health and safety on the line every day. There have been many cases in the U.S and around the globe in which physicians have fallen seriously ill or died after treating patients for COVID-19. The physical toll alone is daunting with extremely long and taxing hours at a patient’s bedside. The emotional toll is just as significant, and enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned and experienced doctor. Ultimately, no one can say for sure how long this health threat will last or how much more our nation’s physicians will be asked to give.

A Physician’s Responsibility

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds physicians of the obligation to place a patient’s welfare above our own, the need to protect and promote public health, and the ethical considerations involved in providing care under the most urgent and trying circumstances. Physicians embrace all these responsibilities and more as a routine part of their professional lives. This fact does not diminish the burden a physician will undertake on a patient’s behalf. The selflessness displayed in the face of a deepening health crisis is truly extraordinary.

Thank You to Physicians – Today and Every Day

When physicians are asked why they chose their profession, answers will of course vary. One theme tends to underlie all the responses: a profound commitment to helping others. Physicians are called upon to help in moments like the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Patrice A. Harris, former president of the American Medical Association, said in her inaugural address “Physicians don’t run from challenges. We run toward them.” Physicians undertake these efforts because they are called to do so, not to earn public recognition or thanks. People should thank them and offer heartfelt gratitude and praise, not on National Doctors’ Day but every day.

References:

Quote about love with flowers and company logo

February is Full of Heart

By: Dr. Laura Mantine

Love is all around this month, especially on Valentine’s Day, when we take time to turn to those closest to us and say those three magical words. However, if you have a loved one who suffers from advanced cardiac disease, one of the best ways to show how much you care may not come in a sentimental card or a box filled with chocolates. Instead, it may come from calling hospice. Oftentimes, people don’t realize that hospice care is an option for people who suffer from advanced cardiac disease. Instead, these patients often spend their final days and months in and out of the hospital, receiving treatments that do little to improve the course of the disease. Hospice offers a supportive program of holistic care designed to help patients manage symptoms, forego emergency room visits and receive convenient, compassionate care right in their places of residence.

Heart Disease

The estimated annual cost of heart disease is about $200 billion each year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States across all demographics. Heart disease accounts for 17.8% of hospice deaths, second only to cancer (30.1%). During hospice care, cardiac patients are monitored by a team of physicians and nurses, who administer medications and treatments to keep them as comfortable as possible. Social workers can access valuable community resources. Chaplains and counselors provide emotional and spiritual care for the patient and family. Volunteers can sit with patients, read to them or help them with light household chores, and allow caregivers to get some much-needed respite.

Hospice Eligibility for Heart Disease Patients

End-stage heart failure is often marked by an abrupt, dramatic decline, followed by recurring recovery and stability until sudden death. Patients are ideal candidates for goals-of-care conversations when they have severe refractory heart failure or extensive symptoms of cardiac insufficiency, have tried or cannot tolerate maximum medical management and are not candidates for curative therapies or surgical interventions. Hospice care addresses a wide range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, weakness and functional decline. Eligibility for hospice may require documentation of progressive loss of functional capacity over years, progressive failure to respond to therapies and a desire to discontinue curative treatment. Patients should check with their physician to see whether they are eligible for hospice based on their history of congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or heart attacks. The physician may also consider any coexisting diseases like HIV, diabetes, respiratory illness or kidney disease when transitioning a patient to hospice care.

How Hospice Can Help Heart Disease Patients

In addition to increasing a cardiac patient’s quality of life, hospice often increases the cardiac patient’s quantity of life as well. In a study reported in the March 2007 Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, congestive heart failure patients who chose hospice survived 81 days longer than those who did not. Even when modern-day technology or surgery can no longer offer hope, patients with late-stage cardiac disease need to know that help is always available. Hospice allows these patients to experience as much joy as possible in their remaining days while minimizing their discomfort and pain.

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2016). Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2015 on CDC WONDER Online Database. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2015, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. 

Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, Cushman M, Das SR, Deo R, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2017 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135:e1–e458. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000485.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. (2018). NHPCO Facts and Figures 2018 edition. 

Ziaeian, B., & Fonarow, G. C. (2016). The Prevention of Hospital Readmissions in Heart Failure. Progress in cardiovascular diseases, 58(4), 379–385. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2015.09.004

banner that reads 'What Black History Month Means to Me' alongside portrait of Angelique

What Black History Month Means to Me

By: Angelique Riley

Meet Angelique

My name is Angelique Riley, and I have been at Grane Hospice Care, King of Prussia (an Abode Healthcare and BrightSpring Health Services company), for a little over two and a half years. I joined Grane after spending twenty years managing Life Enrichment in Continuing Care Retirement Centers. I found Life Enrichment rewarding, but it was time to hang up that hat and move on to another venture.

I chose to work in Hospice Care to share my natural gift of helping people during the most difficult time of their lives. I take pride in sharing compassion, support, and a great deal of care with our patients. It is a great honor to be spotlighted in our employee newsletter, and to share what Black History Month means to me.

What Black History Month Means to Angelique

Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African American History Month. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. Now that you have the Wikipedia definition of Black History Month; let me tell you what Black History Month really means…

Black History cannot be contained or limited to a single month. I grew up in a family where we honored and embraced our heritage year-round. My siblings and I were educated by our father on the rich history of African Americans. He taught us about inventors, writers, educators, musicians, and other notable Black figures.

It was important to my father that we had knowledge of our own history. We grew up as military children and were exposed to many different cultures and environments. My father prided himself in educating us on African American studies because he knew our schools and society, would more likely teach us an inaccurate version of our history, if they mentioned African Americans at all.

American schools teach students about Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and the enslavement of African American people in the US. Those are important topics to cover, but that barely scrapes the surface of African American contributions to our society. Sparse lesson plans fail to mention the large numbers of African American scientists, physicians, attorneys, and professors who have made huge contributions to American progress.

A Personal Story

A quick funny story: When I was in World History Class my junior year in High School in Lawton, Oklahoma, the teacher presented a lecture about religion in the African American community. I remember cringing in my seat, my spirit stirred with frustration because the lesson was filled with errors about my history and my culture. I could not remain silent.

Each time that the teacher mispronounced a name, gave an inaccurate date, or worse, attributed an accomplishment to the wrong person, I spoke up and corrected him. After I contradicted him four or five times, the teacher grew so frustrated that he shouted,

DO YOU WANT TO TEACH THE CLASS?”. I rose to my feet and said, “Yes, I do”.

It did not end well for me that day. I was sent to the office immediately and punished with an In-House Suspension. Despite the repercussions, I never regretted what I did.

My experience confirmed my father’s prediction that the school was not going to teach the proper information on African American History. Since my father took the time to teach me, I knew my history and had the conviction to share it with my peers.

I shared this story to illustrate the importance of teaching African American History and embracing it as an ongoing celebration in the African American Community. I am grateful to see schools, businesses and the community recognize Black History.

Black Is Love

The month of February is a time to honor our ancestors and their hidden or overlooked contributions. It is also a time to reflect on the work still to be done.

Black History Month is a reminder that Black Is Love. I love being an African American woman and getting to reflect with others who are also proud to be African American. Black History Month is an invitation for others to join in the ongoing celebration of black excellence. It is unity in its highest form.

Close up of human body diagram, highlighting the pancreas

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness for Hospice  

By: Dr. Margarita David Ph.D., RN

Pancreatic cancer affects over 60,000 people in the United States. Continue reading to learn more about pancreatic cancer in honor of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that develops in the pancreas. The pancreas helps regulate the metabolism of sugar and aids in the digestion of foods.

What causes pancreatic cancer?

Although the exact cause of pancreatic cancer is still unknown, some risk factors that may contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer include:

Physical symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Many of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are also common with other types of cancers. These may include:

How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?

There are several ways that pancreatic cancer is diagnosed:

Blood tests

Three blood tests can help diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer:

  1. Liver function test. Measures the amount of bilirubin in the blood. If high this may indicate a tumor is blocking the bile duct.
  2. Carcinoembryonic antigen. Elevated levels in the blood are found in patients with cancers of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract.
  3. CA 19-9. Individuals with pancreatic cancer often have an elevation of this protein in their blood.

Biopsy

If blood work and imaging indicate the possibility of having pancreatic cancer, a biopsy (a tissue sample from the pancreas) is taken to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy is the gold standard for a definitive pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

How does hospice help pancreatic cancer patients

Pancreatic cancer can be extremely painful, making your quality of life more difficult toward the end of life. Hospice care allows people to live their final stages in peace by providing:

Comfort for end of life

The end of life can be a very stressful, uncomfortable, and anxiety-provoking time. A hospice team can help provide the comfort the patient needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Spiritual guidance

Hospice care takes care of you physically and emotionally during the end of life. The team consists of a social worker and chaplain who will work with you and your family to ensure your spiritual needs are met. Hospice provides compassionate care that is supportive of both the patient and their families through the end of life and throughout the grieving process.

Helps with family and loved ones

Caring for sick loved ones can be an exhausting endeavor, which is why hospice care takes over your care so that your family gets a much-needed break. Your hospice team can also coordinate respite periods for your caregiver.

Picture of night sky with illuminated head and brain outline with a missing puzzle piece. Silhouette holding up the missing puzzle piece

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

By: Dr. Margarita David Ph.D., RN

What is Alzheimer’s Disease

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disorder that cannot be reversed. This disease declines the person’s ability to think, remember, and carry out familiar tasks.

Neurons and connection pathways

The progressive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s is due to the loss of communication between neurons. The neurons are responsible for sending messages from the brain to all parts of your body.

Frontal lobe

The frontal lobe is responsible for your social and emotional skills, motor functions, language, and cognitive functions. When the frontal lobe is damaged, you may experience:

Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe is located at the back of the skull. It is responsible for your senses such as touch, taste, sight, smell, and temperature. Damage to the parietal lobe can affect any of these functions.

Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe’s primary function is to keep your memories. Damage to this lobe will make it hard to retain new information.

Who does Alzheimer’s affect?

Commonly, individuals that develop Alzheimer’s are usually over the age of 65, but people under this age may develop it as well, which is considered early-onset.

Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease

The early signs of Alzheimer’s may begin with memory problems and difficulty learning new things or information due to damage in the brain’s hippocampus.

Other forms of neurological diseases

Other degenerative brain diseases include:  

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is caused when you have had multiple strokes, which can cause brain damage which leads to the loss of memory in older adults.

Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Parkinson’s is a disorder that affects the central nervous system, which affects your movement and will often include tremors in certain parts of your body.

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia affects both the frontal and temporal lobes. As this type of dementia progresses, the nerve cells in these lobes are lost causing them to shrink, ultimately affecting behavior, movement, and ability to communicate.

Huntington’s Disease

A rare genetic disease that causes damage to nerve cells in the brain and eventually breaks them down progressively.

Stages of Alzheimer’s disease

Early-stage Alzheimer’s

During the early stage, you may still function independently and continue your normal activities of daily living, such as driving, working, and participating in social events. However, you may experience lapses in your memory, such as forgetting words that are familiar to you.

Middle-stage Alzheimer’s

The middle stage of Alzheimer’s is also known as the longest stage as it can last for years. During this stage, you may experience more pronounced Alzheimer’s symptoms, including confusing words in a conversation, refusing to do self-care such as bathing, and mood changes.

Late-stage Alzheimer’s

In the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms become more severe as you lose the ability to hold a conversation or control your movements. Worsening memory and significant changes to your personality also occur.

Hospice care for Alzheimer’s disease

What to expect

As Alzheimer’s symptoms progress and get worse, hospice care includes symptom management and providing emotional and spiritual support to you and your family.

depressed young schoolgirl with stop bullying text on notebook helpless and scared as victim of bullying

National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

Bullying is defined as abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. Unfortunately, bullying is nothing new. However, with each new technological advancement we see, bullies find a new outlet to use to prey on their targets. In honor of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, we are taking a stand and raising awareness for the immense need to stop bullying.

Bullying Can Occur at Any Age

Typically, we think of bullying as being something that occurs among adolescents. However, bullying can occur among any age group, race, or gender. Any instance of mistreatment or seeking to hurt someone or make them feel badly is considered bullying. It can happen at school, at work, or even among friends and family.

Bullying Doesn’t Always Stop When You Go Home

Although they can be wonderful means of keeping in touch with old friends, social media and other online communication platforms can negatively contribute to bullying. The days of going home to escape a bully are long gone. Now days, bullies can just log on to their computer or grab their phone and pick up right where they left off. In some instances, bullying can be more extreme online because the bully feels more confident when hiding behind a screen. Some even create a fake social media profile to target those who are more vulnerable.

The Impact of Bullying

Bullying can impact a child in many ways. It can weigh on them emotionally and physically and can have a negative impact on their relationships with friends and family.

Emotional and Social Impact of Bullying

Kids who are bullied often have a difficult time making friends and maintaining healthy relationships. If no intervention occurs, they can develop something called “learned helplessness,” which means they feel as though there is nothing they can do to change the situation. As a result, they give up. This can ultimately lead to severe depression.

As a bullied child grows into an adult, they may continue to struggle with issues with their self esteem and may have a difficult time developing and maintaining relationships. Understandably, they may also have a hard time trusting people, which can have a major impact on relationships.

Physical Impact of Bullying

The physical impact of bullying goes beyond the bruises of physical bullying. Children who are bullied often experience anxiety which can result in health issues due to the stress on their body. This can include things like ulcers, headaches, stomach aches, or simply getting sick more often.

Impact of Bullying on the Family

Bullying does not only cause harm to the child who is bullied. It can also affect their parents and siblings. Parents may feel helpless. They may also feel as though they failed to protect their child and, in turn, start to question their parenting abilities. However, it is important to remember, no one can predict who a bully will target. Parents should never feel responsible for the choices a bully makes and should instead focus on helping their child heal from the bullying. The bully is the only person to blame.

Bullying Can Have a Lasting Impact

Bullying is not only painful in the moment- it can also have a lasting impact on those targeted. Studies show the effects of bullying last well into adulthood and may have a greater impact on mental health than originally thought. Our experiences growing up – both positive and negative – shape how we view things and ultimately who we become as adults.

Stop Bullying

According to stopbullying.gov, quick and consistent response from adults can help stop bullying over time. It is important to send a clear message that bullying is not acceptable. We can all do our part to help stop bullying. If you see someone being bullied, don’t be a bystander. Use these tips to become an upstander!

Close up of doctor’s crossed arms holding a stethoscope and wearing a white lab coat

National Primary Care Week: The Importance of a PCP

We do our best to stay healthy by making nutritious food choices and exercising regularly but getting a little help from the experts is another important step to take. It goes beyond just going to the doctor when you are sick. It’s important to have a healthcare team that also takes a proactive approach to help keep you healthy. This is where a primary care physician comes in.

A primary care physician (PCP) is a general practitioner who provides their patients with continuous medical care. They are trained to treat a wide variety of health-related problems, and they often serve as your first contact in the health system when you have a question or concern. You may contact your PCP for:

Benefits of Having a Primary Care Physician

Aside from the points mentioned above, there are additional benefits to having regularly scheduled visits with your PCP. One example would be that you have a healthcare professional who knows the ins and outs of your overall health. This can be beneficial if you need to go to a specialist. They can not only refer you to one, but they can help you to communicate important information to the specialist to ensure you receive the best care possible.

When you see your PCP regularly, you develop a level of comfort with them. This can help you feel at ease when discussing difficult topics related to your health. You also come to trust their opinion, so it makes you feel more confident when making health decisions.

The Role of Primary Care Physicians in Hospice

It’s a common misconception that a primary care physician is no longer involved once a patient elects hospice care. However, this is not true. Most hospice organizations encourage the PCP to remain involved in the patient’s care.

Why PCP Involvement in Hospice is Beneficial

PCPs are typically the ones who have the best knowledge of the patient’s overall health. Oftentimes, they have been caring for the patient for an extended period, so they understand the patient’s health history and what may have led them to their current state.

When a PCP remains involved during hospice care, they can offer reassurance and support to the patient and their family during a difficult time. When a patient has been with a physician for a long time, they develop a level of comfort with them. Sometimes they just need a familiar face to explain things to them to make them feel at ease. This also works the other way. The PCP can offer clear communication to the hospice provider when a patient may not be able to.

Choosing a Primary Care Physician

You’ve decided to schedule regular visits with a PCP, but how do you choose the right one for you? For some people, it’s as simple as finding a doctor whose office is close to home. However, for some, there’s a lot more to consider. You want someone who you “mesh” with – someone you feel comfortable with. It’s also important to find someone who communicates clearly and effectively. When it comes to your health, there’s no room for miscommunication.

Many hospital systems have online ‘find a doctor’ tools where you can search for a specialty and location. Some allow you to filter based on various criteria such as if they are accepting new patients or if they have extended hours. This will allow you to narrow down your search based on what is important to you.

Reading reviews is also a great way to help you choose. They give you an opportunity to learn more about the physician directly from other patients.

Once you’ve made your selection, make an appointment. Just because you see them once, doesn’t mean you can’t explore other options. Maybe you liked the front office staff and nurses, but just didn’t jive with the doctor. Next time, try a different doctor in that practice. Find the doctor who is the best fit for you. It will make it that much easier to stick to scheduling to regular appointments.

Person's Hand Placing Last Alphabet Of Word Stress

Caregiver Stress Awareness in Hospice Care

By: Joelle Jean, FNP

Caring for a loved one who is terminally ill and on hospice is emotionally and physically taxing. In 2015, an estimated 39.8 million caregivers provided unpaid care to an adult with a disability or illness. The estimated value of the service supplied by caregivers is up to $470 billion since 2013.

Caregivers may deny help from others, perhaps out of guilt or obligation. However, 1 out of 6 caregivers report not being asked what they need to care for themselves. Caregivers can work up to 8.3 hours per day or 66 hours per week during their loved ones’ last days of life. Often, this is in addition to working a full-time job and caring for their own immediate family.

Caregivers are at risk for depression, severe fatigue, or burnout, or even health issues such as hypertension, stroke, obesity, or weight loss due to stress.

What is a caregiver?

A caregiver, also known as an informal caregiver, is an unpaid individual or group of individuals who provide care to a loved one. Caregivers can be a spouse, family members, partner, friend, neighbor, or combination of these individuals.

A caregiver assists their loved ones with activities of daily living which include:

A caregiver can also play a significant role in coordinating care for their loved ones. Many are appointed power of attorney or the primary decision maker for their loved ones, managing finances, property, and most suitable medical care for the individual.    

What causes caregiver stress or burnout?

There is no clear definition of caregiver stress. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stress as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.” Burnout can be a response to stress, defined as extreme emotional exhaustion. According to stress.org, stages of burnout are:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Stagnation
  3. Frustration
  4. Apathy or loss of interest

A caregiver with stress or burnout exhibits signs of feeling overloaded, overwhelmed, emotionally drained, tiredness, detachment from the person they are caring for, and a reduced sense of accomplishment.

Who is most affected by caregiver stress?

Caregiver stress affects the person or people directly caring for their loved one. Stress can also affect caregivers in different ways. For example, one caregiver may find specific tasks stressful or overwhelming while another caregiver may find the task relaxing and rewarding.

What are the signs and symptoms of caregiver stress?

Often, caregivers are not aware of their stress or feeling of burnout. Signs and symptoms of caregiver stress can be subtle or obvious. It is important to identify caregiver stress so it can be eased.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a stress response, activating the fight or flight response that happens chemically in the brain. Physically, anxiety can be described as:

Fatigue

Caregivers suffering from stress may not realize they are fatigued. Fatigue is the body’s response to burnout and can be physical, emotional, or psychological.

Weight changes

Stress can cause weight changes and affect eating patterns. Weight change can occur when dealing with caregiver stress. Rapid weight gain or unexplained weight loss is a warning sign of caregiver stress and should be addressed appropriately.

Irritability

Caregivers may become easily annoyed or short-tempered with loved ones, family members, or friends. Feeling irritable may be a warning sign of caregiver stress.

Feelings of being overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious is normal. Caregivers may become overwhelmed with the amount of care needed to provide to their loved ones. Trouble concentrating, changes in sleep patterns, and changes in eating habits may occur.

Depression

Losing interest in activities can be a sign of depression due to the demanding responsibilities of caregiving. Signs of depression include:

Potential health risks as a result of caregiver stress

Chronic stress (or stress lasting for more than six weeks) can have lasting health problems. Caregivers exhibiting signs and symptoms of stress and burnout have a higher chance of developing health risks.

High blood pressure

Caregivers can suffer from high blood pressure due to the stress of caring for a loved one in hospice. If caregivers have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, stress can make the disease worse. Uncontrolled high blood pressure puts caregivers at higher risk for:

Weakened immune system

The immune system is in place to protect the body from illness and disease. Stress can cause a weakened immune system. With a weakened immune system, caregivers can become sick or develop chronic illnesses such as:

Short term memory loss

Studies have shown that a symptom of chronic stress is the shrinking of the brain. Shrinking of the brain causes short-term memory loss. Short term memory loss affects learning, judgement, and memory process. 

Headaches and body pains

Stress can cause headaches and body pains. On a hormonal level, the increase of cortisol causes headaches even at rest. The physical nature of caring for a loved one on hospice- lifting, standing, walking, and rotating- can cause severe body pain or injury. 

How to relieve or prevent caregiver stress and burnout

Self-care is imperative for caregivers caring for their loved ones in hospice. Self-care means caring for yourself, so you can improve your health to care for others.

Exercise regularly

Finding the time and the energy to exercise might sound difficult. However, even carving out 30 minutes a day has positive effects on your health. Exercising whether it is running, walking, swimming, or doing yoga will lower blood pressure, increase energy, and improve mood.

Asking and accepting help from others

Accepting help can be difficult for some caregivers. It is important to ask and accept help so that you are available for your loved one mentally and physically.

Under most insurances and Medicare, respite care is available to relieve the burden of caregiver stress. Respite care will give short term caregiver relief to those who are in need.

Eat and sleep well

Eating and sleeping well are fundamental in protecting your physical and mental health. A well-balanced meal of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods is important for physical and mental well-being. Adding vitamins such as a multivitamin, vitamin D, or vitamin B-12 can also help improve your mood and energy.

Having a good night’s sleep has many health benefits. Feeling well-rested and energized will only benefit you, as the caregiver, and your loved one. Improved memory, mood, and overall well-being are all benefits of quality sleep.

Seek out support groups

Support groups add immense value to caregivers who are caring for loved ones in hospice. Joining support groups reassures caregivers that they aren’t alone. Support groups:

Maintain personal relationships

Maintaining personal relationships is as important as joining support groups. Meeting up with friends or family members allows you to relax. It also allows you to take time for yourself and time away from your loved one. 

Awareness of caregivers’ stress and burnout must be addressed and acknowledged for caregivers to feel supported and recognized for their challenging work. The hospice team and its services are a fundamental part of bringing this awareness to the forefront.

Close Up Of A Relaxed Young Woman Having Reiki Healing Treatment

Reiki: A Modern Yet Ancient Healing & Relaxation Practice

By: Genna Hulme, Certified Nursing Assistant


Today is National Relaxation Day; and while we could talk to you about reading your favorite book in a bathtub full of bubbles, we are instead going to share with you an ancient healing and relaxation practice that is becoming widespread again: Reiki.

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a very unique form of energetic healing. Using the body’s natural energy flow, it has the ability to balance out disrupted or distorted energy in and around the body’s energetic field. This makes the client feel generally better all around. Reiki is used in multiple health fields around the world making it a fast-growing treatment for therapy purposes as well as a great way to compliment current treatment for many ailments.

Reiki is an ancient form of Japanese healing. It is said to have been passed down for thousands of years from teachers to students. The word itself means Source Light Energy, “Rei” meaning source light and “Ki” meaning energy. Much like other forms of energy-based healing, such as the well-known Tai-Chi, Reiki is learned in a form that is more of a private setting between the teacher and the student. In these classes, the student learns the history of Reiki and how it became widespread today. The student also learns certain hand techniques that help them smooth out the energy, and ways to feel energy as well as its disruptions.

Finding relaxation in the chaos

We now live in a world of burnout, leaving people feeling drained, depressed, stressed out, etc. Every day, we as humans are set up to operate in a way that brings us many challenges. These challenges may cause stress, leaving our thoughts and emotions in a cloud, creating depression, and other mental health issues. If one has a physical health issue, it could have been rooted into the stress of environmental factors. These physical and environmental issues can create some distortions causing a person to have judgmental impairment of basic life decisions. When there is impairment, it plays a domino effect making that person’s thought processes chaotic, hence bringing chaos in their life.

During this process, it is important that we keep up with self-care and restoration. Using Reiki is an excellent way to help! During a typical session, the Reiki Practitioner has the client relax in a sitting or lying position. The client will be instructed to take a few deep breaths as the room is filled with aromatherapy and soothing music. This will help the client physically start to relax. The practitioner will scan their hands over the client feeling for energetic disruptions in their field. When there is a disruption, the practitioner will then meditate and breathe as the “clouded” energy dissipates leaving the client feeling relaxed and stress free. This can last for as long as the client needs. Reiki sessions may last anywhere between 45-120 minutes.

A modern yet ancient practice

Today, Reiki is growing widespread throughout the world. This old/new practice is giving the medical field more options for patients dealing with any life crisis. Cancer treatment centers now include Reiki as a part of the treatments received. It can also be seen in Physical Therapy offices and Athletic Therapy offices. Some Chiropractors also use it as a part of pretreatment for body alignment. Some hospices also use it as a free treatment from a volunteer who is kind enough to offer! Reiki is also being used as an employee wellness practice to aid employees who work in stressful environments. This gives them the opportunity to be able to clear their minds and organize their thoughts, causing them to perform better and be relieved of the stress and “noise”. 

Reiki is a very unique process of healing. As an ancient practice, it definitely has potential to help aid us while we go through our toughest times. With just a few sessions, it will aid the body’s natural energetic functions to generate a better flow causing the client to relax and clear their head.  Whether it is through a job, ailments, or family dynamics, taking time out for self-care will help make some positive changes in ways of thinking and lives, allowing the client to take back control of their mind, body, and soul. There are many opportunities out there for anyone to receive Reiki since it is our birthright to make time and space for ourselves.

Namaste! 

Hospice for Veterans with PTSD

By: Portia Wofford

After dedicating their lives to our nation, our nation’s veterans often face difficulty as they near the end of their lives. While every veteran has different needs, those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) face unique challenges. PTSD, sometimes known as combat stress or shell shock, often occurs after a person experiences severe trauma or a life-threatening event.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the number of Veterans with PTSD, in any given year, varies by service era:

It’s becoming increasingly more evident that veterans have a greater need for quality end-of-life care. Hospice care is a benefit that the VA offers to qualified veterans in the final phase of their lives.

Understanding Symptoms of PTSD in Veterans

Dangerous or life-threatening experiences such as combat can cause veterans to relive frightening events. These experiences cause feelings of uneasiness, anger, irritability, or anxiety. While it’s normal to be alarmed by unsettling memories, veterans with PTSD may experience these symptoms for more than a few months. Additionally, they may have difficulty sleeping, experience nightmares, and feel on edge. The veteran may also lose interest or find it extremely hard to participate in everyday activities. Other symptoms include:

Ways to Alleviate PTSD in Veterans

When providing hospice care for veterans with PTSD, there are several considerations for the hospice team. Some symptoms of terminal illnesses, like severe pain, shortness of breath, and anxiety, may trigger flashbacks or nightmares. Additionally, opioid pain medication can make PTSD symptoms worse. The hospice team will collaborate with the patient’s healthcare team to prescribe the appropriate and most effective medication regimen. The hospice team will work with the veteran’s physician, social worker, and other interdisciplinary team members to create a plan of care. This plan of care may include:

How Can Hospice Help Veterans?

Veterans are eligible for hospice care if enrolled in benefits and meet medical needs for hospice (terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less). As of 2019, because of the VA Mission Act, Veterans now have increased access to more community healthcare options. Those who must drive 30 minutes or more to a VA provider or 60 minutes for specialty care may choose a provider closer to home.

Hospice uses a multi-disciplinary team approach to support and provide Veterans with end-of-life treatment. The team works closely with the VA and can provide support and treatment in the home. Hospice offers the veteran and caregivers:

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