Recently there has been a growing focus for individuals in our society to look at their hopes and desires for the end-of-life and put those wishes into writing. The Five Wishes document and The Conversation Project Starter Kit have helped people think about that day when life will come to an end and put those thoughts and feelings into writing.
As a hospice doctor I have often worked with families caring for a dying loved one at home. But I have only once had the opportunity to switch places and be the caregiver myself when my mother died. That was a profound and educational experience for me as I suddenly understood personally what it was like to be with a dying loved one around-the-clock.
One of the most important conversations you can have with your loved ones is to share your thoughts and feelings about the end of your life. The people closest to you need to know what you want for your last days so that they can advocate for your wishes, if you, for any reason, are unable to speak for yourself. This vital conversation could help you avoid receiving futile and expensive care that you don’t want.
As a hospice physician who has cared for thousands of patients at the end of their lives, I had always assumed that hospice care would be an obvious choice for my mother when it came time for her to die. We had talked openly about my work for many years so I was not prepared for the fear and resistance that came up for her when it was time to choose the next steps in her medical care.
When you think of the word hospice, what comes to mind?
You may feel uncomfortable if you associate it with death. You may feel grateful if someone you love has received hospice care. You may feel fearful if you’re not sure what hospice really involves.
Say the word to Ruby Staley, and she’ll tell you she feels honored. That’s because she is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at The Denver Hospice. CNAs like Ruby provide some of the most personal care – from bathing and feeding patients to listening to and supporting families.
Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare.
Terry Hoag never saw it coming. He had enjoyed a successful career as a human resource executive and, more recently, as an artisan. But no role will ever be more important to him than that of being a father. Alongside his wife, Carolyn, he raised two beautiful, bright children – son Pete and daughter Jessica.
After 34 years as a nurse with The Denver Hospice, Eileen Howerzyl is retiring. She leaves knowing her work has helped countless families navigate one of life’s most challenging passages. She leaves excited about the new adventures ahead. And she leaves deeply grateful to the family who has supported her all along the way.
For 12 years, Sheri and Gene were unstoppable.
Gene built a successful career as a senior officer at a Fortune 500 company before retiring at age 60. The couple traveled the world’s most beautiful wine regions in Italy, Spain, Argentina and France. For their 10th wedding anniversary they enjoyed a trip to South Africa and the special wine region of Stellenbosch. Sheri said their life together was “truly happy”.
Roger West, a recent patient with The Denver Hospice, left a living legacy — he opened the Colorado wilderness to those with disabilities, their families and caregivers. After his father had lost his ability to walk following surgery, Roger dreamed of building a trail to provide wheelchair access to Colorado’s colorful outdoors. He found the perfect place in Park County, Colorado. And he wasn’t about to let 9,200 feet of elevation stand in the way.
Valentine’s Day will be a bit sweeter for 4,000 Denver-area seniors this year, as volunteers spread across the Denver Metro area handing out roses and smiles to elders. Continue reading “Denver Seniors Receive Roses for Valentine’s Day”