Keeping Dignity | Caregiver Tips

Your loved one can no longer do the many tasks they once could. They now depend on you for many of these things. The easiest solution may be to simply take over and make decision, but it’s important to be respectful of your loved ones. As a caregiver, you want to protect your loved one’s dignity and sense of self-worth.

Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine if your independence had slipped away. You can no longer drive, walk, or get out of bed. These once simple tasks now require help from someone else. How would this make you feel? You may feel frustrated. This loss of freedom would most likely cause you to want to keep control over as much as you possibly could.

Here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Put yourself in your loved one’s place. How would you want to be treated if you were being cared for?
  • Educate yourself on your loved one’s condition. This can prepare you for what’s ahead.
  • Help them do what they can on their own for as long as possible. This will give them a sense of control.
  • Talk openly and honestly with your loved one. Try to involve them in decisions and be a good listener.
  • Be flexible. Try an accommodate reasonable requests if you can.
  • Give positive feedback if your loved one does a task on their own.

Our Bereavement Services

Grieving for loved ones who are experiencing a life-limiting illness is natural for families and friends. This process can often begin before death occurs. Hearts for Hospice & Home Health Bereavement Services are available for those who are coping with losing a loved one. Our staff is committed to working closely with families who are working through the grieving process. Our services include:

  • One-on-one support
  • Print materials
  • Supportive phone calls
  • In-home support sessions

Our support is available to families for up to 13 months following the loss of a loved one. We also host monthly support group sessions at our Hearts for Hospice & Home Health locations. Support groups offer families and friends a platform to share their experience with others in the community who are facing similar situations.

Our services don’t stop once your loved one has passed. We are committed to helping families and friends of patients even after they are gone. Please contact us for more information about our Bereavement Services.

Life-Limiting Illnesses – When to Call Hospice

A life-limiting illness is an incurable chronic disease or condition that no longer respond to curative treatments.

Examples of a life-limiting illness include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
  • Stroke
  • ALS
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • End-stage Renal Disease
  • AIDS
  • Cancer

A life limiting illness, coupled with symptoms below, could be indicators of decline and hospice eligibility:

  • Frequent hospitalizations, ER visits, or visits to the physician within the last six months
  • Progressive weight loss (with consideration to weight gain factors such as edema, when applicable)
  • Decreasing appetite
  • Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
  • Increased weakness or fatigue
  • Decline in cognitive status or functional abilities
  • Increasing assistance needed with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
  • Increasing pain or increasing difficulty in controlling pain
  • Increasing dyspnea or shortness of breath
  • Oxygen dependency
  • Reoccurring infections
  • Ascites
  • Increased nausea and/or vomiting that is difficult to control
  • A desire to forgo future hospitalizations
  • A request to discontinue treatment
  • Recurrent or frequent infections
  • Skin breakdown
  • A specific decline in condition

If you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider speaking to your physician about hospice services. You can also call Hearts for Hospice & Home Health, and one of our team members can help guide you through the process of requesting hospice through your physician.

The Grief Survival Kit

Let yourself grieve. It’s important to let yourself take this roller coaster ride and feel your emotions rather than suppress them. No matter how hard you try to bury those feelings of grief, they will continue to resurface, and you won’t be able to truly move on. Start the healing process by giving into grief.

Lean on friends and family. Your friends and family expect you to be upset. While they may not always know the right things to do or say, they do want to be there for you even if it’s just to listen or offer affection. Never feel too proud or embarrassed to lean on them in this time of need.

Join a support group – online or offline. Whether you find a group through social media or in person, support groups provide ways to talk and listen to others who are in the same position and truly understand what you are going through.

Focus on the positive aspects of your life. The loss you are experiencing could feel like the worst thing that’s ever happened to you and no one can change your mind. Despite this, what you need to do is reflect on all the good aspects that continue to bless your life and are worth pushing through the grief.

Keep yourself busy. Become more involved, go on a trip, try something new – participate in activities you enjoy and that can keep you focused on something other than your grief. Redirect your energy into doing things you’ve always wanted to do but never prioritized.

Breathe. If ever you find the grief to be too overwhelming, take a few deep breaths. The body’s breathing becomes shallow when we are feeling tense or stressed, resulting in insufficient oxygen to the body. This adds to the stress you are already feeling, so focusing on conscious, deeps breaths helps you relax and breathe normally.

Journaling Through the Grief

Journaling while grieving can help you document and process the feelings of grief you are experiencing. As you begin the healing process and reconnecting with who you once were, you may start thinking about or telling yourself things you would want to record. Putting these thoughts and feelings into words can be very beneficial and help in better working through the grief. This is why it is a great idea to keep a grief journal.

There are many, different ways you can start to fill up your journal. From creative writing and poetry to journaling and writing letters to your deceased loved one, each way provides you with a venue to communicate without fear of being judged. Opening up and disclosing your feelings to others can be difficult, but each of these methods allows you to express what you are feeling in a more personal, therapeutic way.

Research demonstrates that grief journaling after a significant loss has beneficial value. Experts explain that ‘reconstructing your personal self-narrative’ is crucial to the healing process. A grief journal can assist you in recording your experience, recognizing patterns, and establishing growth.

Are you interested in grief journaling but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some writing prompts to get you started:

  • Today, I am really missing…
  • I feel most connected to my loved one when I…
  • If I could talk to you again, I’d tell you…
  • My goal for this week…
  • I know I’m going to be okay because…

Recognition as a top-performing agency by HomeCare Elite

Red Stethoscope in Shape of Heart Isolated On White Background.

HomeCare Elite has recognized Hearts for Home Health American Fork as a top-performing home health agency for 2018. HomeCare Elite is a compilation of U.S. Medicaid- certified home health agencies annually reviewed by ABILITY and DecisionHealth. The review is conducted using public information evaluating overall performance in quality outcomes, best practices, consistent improvement, and financial health.

Recognition is given to the top 25% ranking home health agencies and further to highlight the top 100 and 500 agencies. HomeCare Elite is unique in a way that it is the only performance recognition of its kind in the home health industry.

Thanks to Hearts for Home Health American Fork team for their continual hard work and dedication to improving the lives of others. Also, thanks to all the families that entrust Hearts for Home Health to provide the care needed for their loved ones. Our team is humbled to be recognized with this prestigious award and hope to continually exceed expectations as the new year arrives.HomeCare Elite Agency 2018 Recognition Badge To find out how Hearts for Home Health services can benefit you or your loved one, please contact us.

Hospice Affirms Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more about how Hearts for Hospice & Home Health services can benefit your loved one, please contact us.

SHPBest Awarded to Hearts for Hospice!
The Hearts for Hospice team in American Fork, UT has been granted this prestigious award from Strategic Healthcare Programs

It’s 2018 and data analytics continues to help individuals and industries better understand where expectations are and how to continuously raise the bar of performance. So, what does data analytics have to do with a healthcare blog?

Recently Hearts for Hospice in American Fork, Utah has received the Superior Performer SHPBest 2017 award for hospice caregiver satisfaction! Hearts for Hospice’s dedication, compassion, and commitment to providing quality care in 2017 has led the team to be graciously given this award and represent one of two facilities in Utah to wear this badge of honor. Huge congratulations to the Hearts for Hospice team for all their hard work, it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed!

But to simply put it, the SHPBest Program continuously and annually recognizes and scores the quality of care given to families and patients from hospice providers enrolled in the program.

Like I said earlier it’s 2018 and in the data-driven world of healthcare, transparency, patient satisfaction, and a combination of the right attributes and tools are important expectations to consider within the industry. So…who helps set, measure, and influence standards and expectations healthcare providers should be following?

First, the list of compliance and regulations begins with CMS and are followed by an ever-growing list. With the help of one outstanding company in particular, SHP – Strategic Healthcare Programs help ensure that compliance standards are easily being tracked and minimums are met.

SHP provides helpful tools which give our healthcare professionals reports of real-time data to help manage and be able to make informed decisions that could help fine-tune performance.

In order to receive or qualify for one of SHP’s annual awards such as the Best-of-the-Best, Premier Performer, and Superior Performer the hospice facility needs to not only be enrolled in SHP’s program but also comply with the minimum completed surveys turned in for CAHPS. From there, “Awards are determined based on the ranking of the Overall Score for a provider against all eligible providers in the SHP database…”.

So how do the awards mentioned above rank? Well, the ‘Best-of-the-Best’ award goes to the company with the best Overall Score. The ‘Premier Performer’ awards go to the top 5% ranking providers and the ‘Superior Performer’ awards go to the top 20% of providers who rank.

Again, a huge thanks goes to our Hearts for Hospice – American Fork team for all their hard work that goes into achieving this accomplishment! If you wish to join the team or see how our services can help benefit you please contact us.

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 .