Pet Therapy: It’s the Little Things That Count

When Alice moved to Salt Lake City with her husband, they bought a plot of land and built a beautiful home together. They settled down, had a few children, and as their children grew, inevitably animals became an inextricable part of their lives. Whether it was her children bringing them home, or her husband finding them in the paper, there were always a few extra family members. As the years passed, Alice adopted many animals, from the mundane (cats, dogs, etc.) to the exotic (a monkey!). There were several decades of cherished memories with all of them. When our hospice team met Alice, her menagerie of animals had decreased significantly, to a troupe of loyal dogs. Her children had grown and her husband had passed away. She wasn’t lonely, however—her dogs were her best friends and avid protectors.

 

Eventually, Alice had to move to a facility and leave her beloved friends behind. It was an emotional event for all involved. The move itself went well and soon she was resting comfortably in her new room. It was clear to her hospice team, however, that she was missing her animals. A volunteer coordinator was called in to assess Alice for pet therapy, and not long after a handler and her service animal were assigned to visit Alice weekly. Alice would brighten instantly at their presence and spend hours laying with the yellow lab mix, Ozzie, petting him and sharing her favorite treat, Twinkies.

 

Despite Alice being separated from her pets, her hospice team was able to make things a lot easier by facilitating pet therapy visits. Alice still lives at the facility and still sees her favorite visitor, a kind, gentle canine named Ozzie.

 

Is your loved one ready for Hearts for Home Health?

With most families, there comes a time when older loved ones need help and assistance with daily tasks for themselves. Getting around the house could become more challenging for them, or they have more medications and medical needs to be addressed, and sometimes more help is needed than family members can provide on their own. When this situation arises, it’s a natural step to consider using home healthcare options. But is your older loved one ready for home health care? There are a few things to take into account before deciding on this route.

  • Does your loved one mind having unfamiliar faces around their home? While this seems like an obvious first thing to look at, many people forget that at the elder stage in life—and even younger ones for that matter—humans occasionally have a tendency to resist change. Even if previously, your loved one was fine with guests and other people coming into their home on various occasions, the prospect of having a new person around all the time as a necessity can be daunting. Our team works with you to find the best matching team between patient, family, and caretaker.
  • Is the home of the patient easily maintained and adapted? As people get older, it can become harder for them to move around the house and maintain its standards. For older people living on their own, it’s important to make sure that they live in an environment that’s easy for them to move and function in with their changing health status. Because of this, sometimes home healthcare professionals will recommend some modifications to ensure the safety of the patient and in order to allow for certain medical issues to be addressed, i.e. slopes for walkers, or easily moved furniture so that new medical equipment can be introduced into the living space.
  • Does the patient have an easily reached network of loved ones? This is probably the most important factor to consider when deciding on home healthcare for your elderly loved one. Home healthcare involves families and friends of patients as participants in the process and as companions. They’re often taught simple tasks by the healthcare professional to do while he or she isn’t present. Additionally, communication between the patient, families, and healthcare team is key in the success of the plan for the patient, so having family members readily accessible to inform about health updates is paramount. Furthermore, patients occasionally feel alienated or distraught because of changes that assisted living and home healthcare bring, so having family members and loved ones close by provides a sense of constancy in a sea of change, which gives comfort and assurance to the patient.

These are just a few, key aspects to consider when deciding if home healthcare is the right fit for your elderly loved one. It all comes down to the individual and what their needs are, so for further information and assurance in this decision, contact Hearts for Hospice and Home Health: (801) 763-9746 .

The Seven Benefits of Hearts for Hospice

“I think it might be a good idea to look into hospice care.” These can be some of the most startling and painful words for patients and their families to hear from a doctor. It’s with this sentence that people begin to think about what the future holds for themselves and their loved ones as they enter this difficult time. Just saying the word ‘hospice’ often frightens people because it’s associated with the end of life, but there’s so much more to this type of care.

Hospice is way for families to provide patients with exactly the type of care that they need at the level and attention that they need it. At the very heart of it, hospice care can offer different benefits that patients and their families might not be able to receive elsewhere. Here are a few of them:

  • The Familiar Environment: Hospice care can be administered at various typical medical facilities like nursing homes and hospitals, but it can also be given in the comfort of your own home or a hospice facility. This allows patients a more tranquil living space that’s not subject to some of the bustling activity that can take place at a hospital. Additionally, a team gets developed for the patient between the doctors, caretakers, and family in order to provide the best comfort and care available.
  • Efficient and Effective Care: Every hospice patient has a team of people devoted to their well-being. This team creates a complete plan that takes into account every aspect of a patient’s illness. The fact that there is a course of action laid out makes it easier for the team and families to respond to whatever it is that the patient needs so that way they can do the best job of controlling and reducing pain for him or her. Furthermore, the professionals that people deal with in hospice care are very experienced in their field and so they can adapt quickly to whatever necessary.
  • Individualized Support: Hospice care workers spend lots of time with the patients, and often a friendly and attached connection is made between patients and caretakers. When this happens, it’s as if the caretakers are taking care of them as if they were their own family, creating almost an instinctive knowledge on how to provide for the patient while still being a listening ear and friendly companion. Care like this allows the families to relax and know that their loved one is in good hands between their visits, alleviating some of the anxiety that a time like this can cause.
  • Dignified and Respectful Care and Treatment: Often times in hospitals, patients are poked and prodded to points of discontent, all in an effort to prolong life. With hospice care, the patients are in more comfortable settings without harsh looking tubes and equipment set up that permeate and reiterate the feelings of sickness and demise. Also, the individual wishes of the patient are more catered to. Respect for the individual and how they want this part of their life to feel is an essential element of hospice care, and it allows for the patients and the families to focus on enjoying the time that they have together.
  • Less of a Financial Burden: While hospital bills pile up quickly and menacingly, hospice care is typically covered to some extent by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies. This means that there will be one less stressor added on to people in this phase of life.
  • Services for Families Are Provided: Eventually, there will come a time when care is no longer needed for hospice patients, but there are still service available for their families. The team that worked with them all along can also offer bereavement and grief counseling, as well as help them out with some of the after-death tasks. People like the hospice chaplains, social workers, and a myriad of others are devoted to helping families deal with the emotions that surround this time.

It’s important to analyze the options you have once it becomes apparent that someone might need hospice care. But with this newfound knowledge, you can make sure that you recognize all the benefits that come out of it so that you can make an informed decision that is best for you and your loved ones.

For more information on Hearts for Hospice, contact us: (801) 772-0243.

Why Music Therapy in Hospice?

By Jenica Taylor, SCMT, MT-BC
Board Certified Music Therapist
Hearts for Hospice

I love music therapy in hospice because it is a holistic approach at a time in life where sometimes the world seems to be falling apart. Every day and every session is different, and there is no simple guaranteed outcome – we are all individuals with unique needs. Research shows time and time again, that this patient-centered, non-invasive form of treatment can empower patients and families with a variety of the issues that arise at end-of-life. Here are four ways I see reasons music therapy fits into hospice:

  1. Music therapy provides pain relief and symptom management: Our bodies have physical responses to music. Catching yourself tapping your toe to your favorite song is a simple example of this. Music therapy harnesses this power of response to enhance the effectiveness of other medical treatments.
  2. Music therapy helps people connect: Disease can damage many of the ways we used to connect with our loved ones. Music therapy creates new opportunities to re-connect. Music therapists have the tools to create meaningful music experiences that allow people to spend time together without the restrictions of communication or physical setbacks.
  3. Music therapy can give voice where words fail: When faced with a life-limiting illness, emotions often run high. Feelings of anger, guilt, sorrow, forgiveness, and love, among others, can be hard to express. Music provides a safe space where these emotions can be felt, worked through, and communicated. Music also can say the things that are too difficult to put into words.
  4. Music therapy in bereavement: In addition to working through the emotions of grief and loss, legacy projects will provide a tangible piece of your loved one that can be held on to. Legacy projects can be anything from a personalized song written in a music therapy session, or recordings of your loved one’s favorite music.

I love the work I am able to do as a music therapist in helping patients and their families. A tender experience I hold dear to my heart is that of *Sara and Joe:

It was a warm spring afternoon. There I stood on the front porch waiting for the door to be opened and reveal the capacity in which I would be needed for the next portion of the afternoon. I had just finished meeting with the interdisciplinary team and received a doctor’s referral for a new patient who was expected to pass quickly. The sound of chattering voices in another room was present as I was ushered in to a modest room where Joe, an elderly man, who dealt with dementia, sat next to his beloved sweetheart’s fading body. I spoke with family members to learn more about what types of music were meaningful for his wife, Sara. I gently introduced the deep, rich tones of the guitar, followed by words of an old favorite song. Her breath became less labored with the music, and less frequent. Enveloped by loving family members and the invisible, yet tangible space created through the music, Sara took her last breath.

Family members quickly came in to say their goodbye’s to their mother and asked me to continue playing their requested songs as they sang along. Joe asked to be alone with Sara, and requested that I stay in the room and play a familiar love song. Sobs poured out of his heart as he kissed her forehead and her lips. As he turned, looking deeply into my eyes, a quiet but fervent “Thank you” was heard. I knew, despite the dementia that often rendered him unable to fully comprehend the reality in front of him, he understood what was happening. Joe was able to say goodbye, through a glimpse of peace.

*Names have been changed to protect PHI according to HIPAA regulations.

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For more information on our music therapy program, visit our website or call:

Hearts for Hospice
Salt Lake County: 801.288.0670
Utah County: 801.772.0243
jenica.taylor@heartsforhospice.com

Hearts Volunteer Making Memories

Hearts Volunteer Linda just completed and sent her 1,000th bear and has no plans for stopping.

Hearts for Hospice is blessed with a very talented volunteer. Meet Linda, a skilled seamstress (she’s been sewing since she was a little girl) and skilled memory maker. Linda has the ability to transform patient clothing into special keepsakes for their families. Families of deceased hospice patients are notified of the bear program and can provide Linda with clothes (particularly shirts) that can be sewn into a huggable bear.

“So many memories are wrapped up in the scent of a loved one,” says Linda. “Much of the clothing I receive has a distinct fragrance—tobacco or perfume.” She appreciates families entrusting her with their most personal items.

Linda gives surviving loved ones something to hold onto—she receives wonderful thank you cards and letters of gratitude but continues the tireless sewing as a way to be of service.

“The bears give families something very special to hold onto during the bereavement process and beyond,” says a Hearts for Hospice Nurse’s Aide. “It can bring closure in a sweet way.”

For more information on the Hearts’ Bear Program, contact Mary Friedrich at 208-389-2276.

Hearts Bears

Parkinson’s Support for Caregivers

Parkinson's Support

CAREGIVER SUPPORT GROUP For Parkinson’s Disease Caregivers
Meeting for Encouragement, Education, & Collaboration

First Wednesday at 2 pm:
Life Care Center –460 W 2600 S, Bountiful

Second Monday at 2 pm:
U of U –729 Arapeen Dr, SLC

Third Thursday at 2:30 pm:
Moreau Auditorium 1002 E South Temple, SLC

Copper Ridge Health Care
3706 West 9000 South West Jordan, UT
Monthly- every 4th Thursday at 6 PM

North Davis Senior Activity Center,
42 S. State Street, Clearfield
Monthly- every 3rd Wednesday at 6:30pm

U of U- Imaging Neuroscience Center
729 Arapeen Drive- Conference Room
Monthly- every 2nd Thursday at 6pm
Monthly – every Second Monday at 2 pm

Stephanie Horlacher: Team Player

Stephanie HorlacherStephanie Horlacher of Salt Lake City chosen as Employee of the Quarter

We received many wonderful nominations and are pleased to announce that Stephanie Horlacher in Salt Lake was chosen as the Employee of the Quarter. Congratulations Stephanie! These are 3 of the 5 nominations we received for her:

Stephanie has an amazing gift of comforting families and patients. Her hours are never 8-5. It’s always late nights and weekends, not for the paycheck but because she deeply cares about people. She is one in a million and not only the best marketer in all of Salt Lake but probably the most amazing person. Whatever you guys pay her is not enough. We do not have a weak link on our team but I would say that she is our anchor keeping us all stable and strong.

Stephanie is the most Amazing person! She not only has connections in the community, but those connections she treats like family. She knows every single one of her referral sources by name and she always knows what patients came from what source because she is there in person talking with her sources and is always there on her admits, unless two are happening at the same time and she can’t be in two places at once. Stephanie deserves this award most because she goes above and beyond just “Marketing” with every single one of her families. She always makes the first contact for them extra super special and when she goes to the admit with the nurse, she will go out of her way to get them whatever they may need right then, if that means they need supplies right away she will come back to the office and grab them herself and take them back. When Stephanie gets a call from someone about a referral, she starts making her phone calls right away and she doesn’t stop until she gets all of the information to the office to process it quickly if need be. If that means she has to drive to the doctor’s office and pick up the orders and paperwork herself in order for it to get done, then that’s what she does. She is truly the most honest and hard working person I’ve seen do what she does.

Stephanie is always willing to go above and beyond to help EVERYONE. Whether it is Home Health or Hospice. She is such a TEAM player. She is willing to help her co-workers, pick up home health orders, and just has a HUGE heart when it comes to patient care.