Click here for important information regarding COVID-19: Updated June 2, 2020

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Why work in hospice care?

With a hospice career, you don't spend your days at work; you change people's lives. 

Hospice workers see their impact every day, developing relationships that lead to better care. By providing comfort and dignity, hospice workers are a bright light in someone's day, helping patients and their families through difficult times. 

When your career offers opportunities, benefits, training and certifications, you're helping yourself and your future, too! 

A career at United Hospice is more than a job — it's an opportunity to be part of a compassionate, skilled and dedicated team in an environment defined by a commitment to quality, caring and respect. 

We invite you to review our featured opportunities to learn more about a fulfilling career with us.

Benefits

  • Health insurance
  • Competitive salary
  • 401K after one year or 1,000 hours of work
  • Profit-Sharing 

Certification in Professional Titles

All Nurses and Social Workers working full or part-time are required to become certified in Hospice and Palliative Care within three years of employment. A salary increment is paid annually. Other professional titles may also receive Certification in Hospice and Palliative Care and earn a salary increment.

Continuing Education

All mandatory education is provided annually by UH's online education program. Additional nursing courses are also offered online at no cost to employees. At the discretion of the Board of Directors, continuing education funds and tuition assistance are budgeted annually.

Learn more about these open positions and more at unitedhospiceinc.org/careers

See Our Current opportunities Here

Learn more about how United Hospice provides great benefits, certifications, continuing education and training for a fulfilling career of honoring life, giving care and bringing comfort. Whether it's the beginning of your path or the culmination of a career of caring, join UH and provide the compassionate care that brought you to the healthcare profession.

UHR funeral planning 101218.jpgPlanning ahead

While it’s painful to think about a loved one’s death, it’s important to talk about arrangements for a funeral or memorial service.

Making plans with your loved one, when they can make choices, lets you focus on quality time and relieves some of the stress on caregivers and families after the loved one has died.

Although it will be difficult, planning can become a chance to learn more about your loved one and share their memories, their history and the things that have been most precious to them throughout their lives.

Here are some steps that can make you feel more prepared and ensure your loved one’s wishes are respected after their death.

Medical/Legal Issues: Advanced directives help guarantee that a person’s wishes regarding their end-of-life care will be carried out. The documents provide instructions about Do Not Resuscitate orders, extreme care measures and other issues.

Advance directives include:

Obituary: Writing an obituary is difficult, but you can look at it as an opportunity to talk to your loved one about the important dates and details of their lives. Learn about the places they've lived, adventures they’ve had and the people and things they love. Some people prefer a very straightforward obituary. Others take the opportunity to offer smiles and laughter to their surviving friends and family. Your loved one should be given a chance to set the tone and content of this important remembrance.

Funeral: One of the first decisions in planning a funeral is determining the body disposition you and your loved one prefer, whether it’s a traditional burial, a natural or "green" burial, cremation, or another option. Discuss music, what religious or other readings they would like, photos they would like to use, pallbearers, flowers and if they would like to suggest charitable donations in their memory. Visit the funeral home and make all the needed arrangements so everything can be set into motion with minimal stress when the time comes.

For traditional burial, determine the selected burial plot or choose a site and purchase a plot. If the person chooses cremation, discuss what should be done with their cremains, where they would like them to be placed or spread.

Memorial Service: A memorial service is usually a more informal opportunity for people to offer condolences and share their memories. Today, many people prefer that the memorial service be a celebration of life. A memorial service can be held with the funeral or as an event separate from the funeral. Consider if there are distant family members who may only be able to make one trip. Although it's less formal, it's still important to plan the venue, catering, music and other details. Your loved one may even want to make a video that you can share at the event.

Making final arrangements while your loved one is still living may feel grim, but it is a chance for them to decide how they will be finally remembered.

If you are struggling to cope with a loved one’s terminal illness or death, United Hospice can help. Our Hope & Healing Program is one of the only places where you will find specially trained counselors, clinical social workers and volunteers who have unique expertise in all aspects of bereavement. Our bereavement support team can help you navigate the grieving process and acclimate to your new normal.

Learn more at unitedhospiceinc.org/our-services/bereavement-services 

 

Planning for your pet

pexels-adrianna-calvo-57627.jpgYou may have thought about who will receive your home, jewelry, or other assets after you pass away, but what about your pets?

Our pets bring us endless comfort, especially as we age or go through illness or other difficult times in our lives.
Unfortunately, an owner’s death can mean beloved pets end up in shelters. Between 5 and 7 million animals are taken to animal shelters each year following their owner’s death. Many of them are senior pets, and most of them never find another home.

Don’t assume friends or family are able or willing take on the responsibility of your pet. Following a death, tensions and emotions run high, and a pet can get caught up in conflict or lost in the shuffle. A plan can ensure a smooth and immediate transition to a new, loving home.

Legally, a pet is an item of property, and when you die, it will have a new owner. You can make a new owner designation legally binding in your will or in a living trust using a provision.

You should leave your pet, and money to care for it, to someone you trust.

  • Talk to family and friends and make arrangements to rehome the pet. Choose someone who will have the resources to provide the pet with the care it needs throughout its lifetime.
  • When you leave your pet to a new owner, consider also leaving that person some money, to go toward the costs of caring for the pet. You can set aside a fund separate in your will designated to cover a pet’s expenses.
  • Because circumstances change, it's always a good idea to have an alternative. A second option should be named in your will or trust, too.
  • If the pet owner has a terminal illness, they have time to introduce the pet to its new owners and home to make the transition less stressful for the pet and the new family.
  • Put together information about your pet for their new family, including health records, food preferences, favorite toys, sleeping and bathroom habits and any other information that would be important, such as if the pet is aggressive toward other animals or is afraid of thunder or fireworks.
  • Once you have found a new home and owner, formalize agreements rather than relying on informal or verbal commitments.

You may want to consider a pet trust, a legally sanctioned arrangement providing for the care and maintenance. Typically, a trustee will hold property (cash, for example) “in trust” for the benefit of the named pets.  The trust makes regular payments to the designated caregiver. Depending upon the state, the trust can continue for the life of the pet or for 21 years, whichever occurs first. Some states allow pet trusts to continue for the life of the pet without a 21-year deadline, a provision necessary for pets with longer life expectancies, such as horses and parrots.
There are forms available online to help you establish and legally formalize a care plan for you or a loved one’s pet. The ASPCA offers information and forms for pet care planning in its Pet Trust Primer.

Consult your attorney or estate planner to make sure your pet will be protected and cared for in the event of your death.

 

Dementia at the end of life: Creating quality time

UHR dementia communication 0819.jpgWhen a loved one is at the end of life, it can be comforting to talk about their lifetime of memories and the times that you shared together.

When a loved one is at the end of life but also has dementia, caregivers can feel as though they are going through loss twice. They may not be able to talk about memories with their loved one, and they can feel that there is no way to spend quality time with someone in the later stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Here are some ideas that can make communication less stressful and more fulfilling.

Manage your expectations - Your loved one may have hours of lucidity or long stretches of confusion. Both sides of the coin deserve understanding and attention. Don't take it personally if your loved one cannot remember you, your spouse, your children, or some significant event. It’s a chance for you to talk about them all over again.

Let them take the wheel - When your loved one has a lapse in memory or abilities, be where they are in their mind. They may get dates or names wrong or misremember events. Is it worth making them feel angry and insecure to correct them on details? No. While it may not seem like quality time, but any time you spend making someone happy and comfortable is quality time.

Be flexible - You may not know what to expect from visit to visit, day to day or even hour by hour. Go into your time together with an open mind and a willingness to “go with the flow.” A good day may mean talking and laughter; a bad day can mean a lot of different challenges. Don’t be hurt or take it personally if your loved one is not in the frame of mind to have company.

Talk about their early years - Often, dementia patients can remember their childhoods and young adulthood better than they remember more recent events. See it as an opportunity to explore those times in their lives, from the childhood pets to their high school years to first car or first job. Topics that come easily will be less stressful for your loved one.

Leave the painful past in the past – Caregivers sometimes feel the need to make amends, demand apologies, or get closure before their loved one passes. If your loved one has dementia, they may not remember the incidents you want to discuss, or the people involved. You may have to find that peace within yourself.

Things to remember:
•    Ask yes or no questions.
•    Call the person by their name.
•    Reintroduce yourself whenever it’s necessary.
•    Limit distractions and create a calm environment for focus and engagement.
•    Speak slowly and in short, simple words and sentences.
•    Be patient when waiting for a response.
•    Don’t ask, “do you remember?” It can make a dementia patient frustrated when they can’t give you an answer.
•    Resist the urge to correct

The trained staff at United Hospice’s Hope & Healing Program at the Provident Bank Hope & Healing Center have helped many families care for and get through the loss of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Our Bereavement Services offer a wide range of specialized options and are available to our hospice families. Learn more at unitedhospiceinc.org/our-services/bereavement-services.

 

Celebrate Dad’s Legacy this Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a celebration of the important role of dads in our lives, and a day also to remember the fathers who have passed. As the years pass, your cherished memories of your dad do not have to fade. Those who have lost their fathers can keep their legacy alive with simple steps that honor who he was and the impact he made.

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Here are five ways to honor your dad’s memory this and every year:

Do some good in his honor

Several words come to mind when we think of the word “dad,” but “protector” and “teacher” might be at the top of the list. Families can honor this role by taking a step to make the world a better place. Think about the issues that were important to your dad. These might be veteran’s rights, youth sports, a cause related to an illness, or many other examples. Volunteer for an activity that your father would have supported, and keep his legacy going strong. No time for volunteering? Give your dad’s friends a call to check in, especially if they do not have family in the area or are living alone.

Give to a cause he supported

If you cannot volunteer – which may be the case given continuing social distancing guidelines – consider donating in your father’s name. Another idea is to create an online fundraiser in his honor. Facebook makes user-initiated fundraising easy and also lets you share memories with family and friends.

Enjoy his favorite activity

One of the best ways to memorialize dad is to do the things that he loved to do. If dad was an avid golfer, introduce your kids or grandchildren to the sport. If your dad simply loved spending time with family, gather everyone for a celebration of his life each father’s day. It’s a way to share hobbies and keep dad’s memory alive.

Visit one of his favorite spots

Most people have a destination or location that is close to their heart. For your dad, maybe it was the park where he met your mother or his favorite fishing spot. If your dad’s favorite places are nearby, take a short trip and appreciate the meaning of the location to him – and make sure the younger generations know why.

Share stories of your dad’s life

Memories have the power to turn sadness into joy. Grieving is a complicated process that is highly personal. However, positive memories can help boost mood and reframe the way we think about the loss of a father. Remember the good times. Pull out the photo albums. Celebrate the past and look forward to the future.

Remember, too, if memories of your dad are difficult to deal with, United Hospice’s Hope and Healing Program provides specially trained counselors, clinical social workers, and volunteers to help navigate the grieving process. We’re here to help you through your grief, so the memory of your father, or any lost loved one, lives on with positivity.

 

Congratulations to CEO Amy Stern on her retirement after three decades of leadership

COO Cara Pace to succeed as CEO, with plans to build on UH’s accomplishments

Please join us in thanking Chief Executive Officer Amy Stern for 32 years of dedicated leadership and service at United Hospice and congratulating her on her retirement. Amy has been a strong advocate for hospice services for over three decades – from her beginning as UH’s first social worker, to becoming Executive Director in 1989 and CEO in 2016. One of her many notable accomplishments over her tenure was the opening of the Joe Raso Residence in 2012. Her impact on hospice services in our community will continue to be recognized and will help UH continue to reach its goals in the future. We wish Amy good health and much happiness in her retirement!

Chief Operating Officer Cara Pace succeeds Amy as UH’s new CEO. Cara joined our Executive Team in 2019 as COO and has more than 27 years of experience working in the nonprofit, healthcare and government sector. Cara has served in key executive leadership roles in nonprofit organizations and has a successful track record of developing new business revenue for organizations and securing grant revenues. Since 2019, she has secured $1 million in grant revenue to expand end-of-life care to Hispanic/Latino and underserved communities.

Congratulations Amy and Cara!

 

Hospice care in nursing homes delivers comfort and expert care

Hospice is sometimes thought of as a home-based component of healthcare, but many who are seriously ill also live in nursing homes. While nursing homes provide a supportive environment that addresses a variety of needs, hospice care adds comfort and improves quality of life. Together, the supportive services provided by nursing homes and hospice care can provide greater peace of mind to patients and their families as they deal with serious illnesses.

GettyImages-1136917902.jpgIn a nursing home setting, hospice care involves regular visits by a hospice nurse. Hospice nurses provide expert pain management and help manage other problems that require palliative care. A hospice nurse also provides medications and supplies related to a patient’s terminal illness.

Hospice caregivers also give the same level of care and attention that would be provided in the home. This includes educating patients and family members about the patients’ condition and how to provide the best care. And, hospice care staff are there to provide emotional and spiritual support, both for the patient and for their family. This family support also extends further, covering bereavement and counseling.

As part of a care team, hospice nurses and other hospice care professionals also provide a variety of supportive services, to the nursing home staff. This includes coordinating care so nursing home staff can reinforce comfort and optimal quality of life, even when the hospice nurse is not present at the nursing home.

GettyImages-1201090915.jpgAt United Hospice, we work closely with area nursing homes to ensure that patients receive more than just comfort care. Hospice is specialized, expert care with a variety of services designed to enrich care and supplement traditional nursing home care. Since hospice care is focused on the whole person, the psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of care and support are included. With hospice care, nursing home patients experience a more complete spectrum of care that delivers peace of mind.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of the fragility of nursing home patients, and the need for specialized care for nursing home patients, including those dealing with the most serious of illnesses. With hospice care, you can ensure that your loved one has a heightened level of care. United Hospice is here to help. Learn more about United Hospice’s nursing home hospice program.

 

Thanking Our Frontline Heroes this Week and Month, and Always

National Nurses Week usually runs from May 6 - 12, but this year the American Nurses Association has expanded it to be a month-long celebration to expand opportunities to elevate and celebrate nursing. United Hospice will continue to honor our frontline heroes, as we do every day.

UH Collage 2.jpgWe’re also thankful for the amazing support our nurses have received from the community. Some of the recent donations we have received for our nurses and support staff members include:

  • 125 cans of Harney & Sons Tea
  • $5 coffee and bagel gift cards for each employee, approximately 100 total
  • Hundreds of homemade fabric facemasks
  • 1,000 KN-95 masks

A great big shout out also to Senator James Skoufis for working tirelessly for our communities. Senator Skoufis’ office was able to procure PPE for the front line healthcare heroes, including our front line staff at United Hospice. Senator Skoufis presented PPE in late April to Regina McGrade, UH Director of Development. The Senator and his staff could not have been more helpful and are much appreciated.

This outpouring of gratitude and generosity is appreciated by all of us. Honoring life, giving care and bringing comfort is our focus every day. But, community is truly the foundation of what we do. As we thank our frontline heroes, thank you also to our wonderful community. 

 

Bereavement Services: You are Not Alone

Grieving is part of living. It is a healthy and normal response to any loss. While people can go through the grieving process in different ways, saying goodbye to a loved one often involves connecting with others. We are all interconnected, and funerals, sitting shiva and other ways we honor those who have died help soften the shock of a loss. In our current situation of social distancing, many are faced with a sort of ambiguous loss that can lead to prolonged grief.

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United Hospice’s Bereavement Services can help. UH specializes in bereavement support, providing specially trained counselors, clinical social workers and volunteers who have unique expertise in all aspects of the grieving process. Even in these challenging times of isolation, you are not alone. Our support team can help you navigate your grief through individual support sessions, bereavement support groups, the Healing Hearts Program for families with children ages 4-18, and customized crisis intervention and bereavement programs.

May is Mental Health Month, a recognition that everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. Grief is one of these challenges. While social distancing may change some of the ways people grieve, it does not have to lead to a sense of meaningless and never-ending loss. UH has a variety of tools to help others thrive and increase resiliency regardless of the situations they are dealing with. Thank you to our Bereavement Counselors who are readily available to help our patients and families through this crisis.

If you or someone you know is dealing with grief, connect with us to learn more about UH’s bereavement services. Let us help build a bridge between your past and future – one that guides you through the pain of loss to a place where you can find peace of mind. Please contact our Bereavement department at bereavement@unitedhospiceinc.org or call 845-634-4974 and ask to speak with one of our Bereavement Counselors.

 

“The American Nurse” Documentary, Q&A Session Available for Viewing Throughout May

Rivertown Film, Rockland County’s only arts nonprofit dedicated to motion pictures, has joined with Rockland County and United Hospice to support healthcare workers during National Nurses Week, and the entire month of May. 

Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 7.50.22 AM.png“The American Nurse,” an insightful documentary on the unique experiences of nurses across the country, has been made available for free streaming since May 3rd as a way to increase awareness on the special role that nurses play every day.

The film explores some of the biggest issues facing America – aging, war, poverty, prisons – through the work and lives of five nurses. The narrative involves the director’s journey in 2012 to record nursing stories with the hopes of inspiring audiences to think about nurses in a new way, with a newfound appreciation for their indispensable contributions to the front lines of health and healthcare.

It is a documentary that has the power to change how we think about nurses and wrestle with the challenges of healing America. These challenges have only become greater due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A link to the documentary is at www.rivertownfilm.org, and will be viewable throughout the month. In addition, as part of the Artists from the Archives online series, Rivertown Films is making available a 23-minute lively interview and Q&A session featuring director Carolyn Jones, producer Lisa Frank, and others including United Hospice nurse Danielle Byrnes. The Q&A was moderated by Judi Peacock, Director of Clinical Services for United Hospice and Administrator of the Joe Raso Hospice Residence. 

The stories of nurses in America resonate strong in these challenging times. Join us in sharing these stories as one way to bring attention to the important role nursing plays in life, every day.

 

Profiles in Caring: Karla Fuentes-Castillo

Karla Fuentes-Castillo has been a nurse at United Hospice since October 2019. We are recognizing Karla as one of UH’s frontline heroes during National Nurses Week because she immediately responded to the call to work with COVID-19 patients.FAB80DB0-0BE0-4965-B71C-20DB4E8916BE_4_5005_c.jpeg

Karla has been a nurse for six years. Prior to joining United Hospice, Karla worked in the Oncology department at Memorial Sloane Kettering in New York City. She was inspired to become a nurse by one of her siblings, who today is a biomedical engineer.

Her decision to become a hospice nurse came from her desire to help patients and families in a holistic way.

“I always loved to help others feel better,“ Karla said. “I feel that it is necessary to educate and help to empower patients and their loved ones during such a critical time in their lives. It is also a privilege to do this in my own community.”

Like all of our nurses and other care professionals, the COVID-19 pandemic has been quite a challenge, especially the precautions against human contact.

“Even though words have power, it is not the same as placing my hand on someone’s shoulder. Now I consciously must find different ways and be more attentive to the way I provide care,” Karla added. “At the same time, I act as a role model when it comes to safe guidelines for patients and their loved ones.”

On a personal level, Karla shares many of the fears of those in her profession. To calm these fears, Karla said she focuses on different aspects that she can control, such as using personal protective equipment (PPE), going the extra mile to find stores with automatic doors, and educating herself and others to use different social media platforms.

 Also, Karla tries to be mindful, finding ways to enjoy nature and decompress, recognizing that in order to provide care, she must make sure she cares for herself.

 

Profiles in Caring: Patricia Hendrick, RN

Meet Patricia (Pat) Hendrick, a registered nurse and one of many frontline heroes at United Hospice. Pat has been with United Hospice for two years, but has over 40 years of nursing experience.

Pat Hendrick.jpgBefore joining us, Pat worked at Nyack Hospital and Dobbs Ferry Hospital. Much of her experience is in med-surg, providing care in hospital units for patients who are acutely ill with a wide variety of medical issues or are recovering from surgery. This experience included her role as Director of Med-Surg and ER at Dobbs Ferry.

Pat decided to become a hospice nurse when her daughter, a hospice night nurse at United Hospice, suggested she make the move.

On the differences between med-surg and hospice care, Pat said “It’s nice that people have a choice to use hospice and stay home. Hospice patients don’t want to go to the hospital. With hospice, they can stay at home and be with their loved ones.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Pat, both professionally and personally. Pat, like many frontline medical professionals, has found the current situation overwhelming.

“You can’t come home and leave (the pandemic) at the door. With the media constantly talking about it and being fearful to bring COVID home to my loved ones, it’s 24 hours a day.”

Pat cleans all the time, both at work and home, but understandably the concern of becoming infected or exposing patients is ever-present. She did, however, get to enjoy a week’s respite recently, taking some brief time away to clear her head, and says she is happy to be healthy every day.

Front line advice from Pat: “Please be so very careful, follow CDC guidelines, and ensure you are cleaning everything you touch all the time!”

 

UH Celebrates National Nurses Week with Profiles in Caring

May 6 – 12, 2020 is National Nurses Week. Each year, we honor these frontline healthcare heroes who inspire us, every day. Today’s new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of nurses in a healthcare crisis. They step up and form a united front of safety and caring.  

GettyImages-1213757965.jpgFrom all of us at United Hospice, thank you. Your courage, hard work, and determination to care, no matter what, bring health and comfort to so many. 

This week, we will be posting several profiles of UH’s frontline nurses. We’ll learn more about their calling to the nursing profession, their decision to become hospice nurses, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their day-to-day jobs.

Join us in celebrating the crucial work that nurses do every day in our communities. 

 

National Volunteer Week: Recognizing the Impact of Service

April 19-25, 2020 is National Volunteer Week, an annual observance that honors the people who make a difference with their actions every day. This week, the contributions of volunteers will be celebrated by individuals and organizations all over the nation, shining a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve.

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At United Hospice, volunteers form an incredible force, providing a variety of services that impact hospice patients and their families. Volunteers help support individuals and families in need of hospice care. They provide direct care, such as companionship, errands, pet therapy, caregiver respite, and other services. Volunteers are also a key ingredient in how United Hospice serves the community through administrative and fundraising assistance. Whether they are giving a hand to an individual at a time of need, or answering phones and doing data entry, volunteers make a difference and set an amazing example.

National Volunteer Week began in 1974 and has grown exponentially, highlighting the good deeds of others and providing more opportunities to serve.  In uncertain and challenging times, such as our present reality with the coronavirus pandemic, bright, shining examples of volunteerism are all around us. We see this light every week and every day.

We honor volunteers — both at United Hospice and all over the country. We thank them for their selfless and tireless work and encourage others to follow their example. Often, our volunteers tell us that they receive more than they give. This is the beauty of service. Helping others truly is its own reward. 

United Hospice has volunteer opportunities for direct care, non-direct care, and community service. For more information on how you can volunteer with UH, please visit our Volunteer page.

 

National Healthcare Decisions Day

GettyImages-1143268892.jpgNow, more than ever, it’s time to start the conversation about advance directives. Today, April 16th, is National Healthcare Decisions Day, an annual initiative to encourage people to express their wishes regarding healthcare. The coronavirus pandemic highlights the importance of making healthcare decisions known. 

In these difficult times, many things are out of our control. But, we can be prepared and we can ensure that those we care about are also prepared. Here are three important steps we all can take to help make our wishes known: 

1. Choose someone to be your health care decision-maker. Make it official by filling out a decision-maker form. If social distancing makes it difficult to create an official legal document, writing down your wishes is better than silence.

2. Carefully think about your wishes. These questions can help: What if you became seriously ill with COVID-19? What would be important to you? What would worry you? What would help you the most? Would you like to be cared for at home or in the hospital?

3. Tell your decision-maker and other important people in your life about your wishes. Also, make sure to talk to your health care team about your advance directives.

For more information about National Healthcare Decisions Day, visit https://theconversationproject.org/nhdd/.

To learn more about how United Hospice can help, please visit see our Introduction to Advance Directives.
 

Becoming a family caregiver

UH family main0120.jpgWhen a loved one becomes ill, it’s typically the family that first steps in to take on the care of the patient.
Family caregivers are already coping with the stress and emotional aspects of a loved one’s illness. The tasks of full-time caregiving can quickly become overwhelming.

As the primary caregiver, family caregivers will have to tend to a patient’s personal care, manage their medications, perform other medical tasks such as changing bandages and monitoring vital signs, among others. Family caregivers are also tasked with managing medical equipment, including oxygen machines, wheelchairs, a lift to transfer patients and a hospital bed.

Family caregivers must become well-versed in their loved one’s condition and try to predict future needs. There will come a time when a patient requires 24-hour attention, which is difficult for anyone to tackle on their own.

Family caregivers can’t do it alone

Family caregivers often take on too much and experience burnout.

Other family members can often pitch in to take on some of the day-to-day care, such as preparing meals, running errands or providing respite for the primary caregiver. A family caregiver needs to be willing to delegate responsibilities and recruit family members to help in whatever ways they can.

When a patient has been admitted to hospice, there are many resources available to families who need assistance with care and help to cope with the stress of a sick loved one – and losing a loved one.

What can Hospice do to help family caregivers?

  • Provide general companionship for the patient and respite for family caregivers.
  • Help with personal care and household tasks such as bathing and dressing, chores, food preparation and laundry.
  • Manage pain and other symptoms
  • Assiste the patient and family members with the emotional, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying
  • Arrange for medical professionals to visit the home
  • Arrange for needed medical equipment and supplies to be made available in the home

United Hospice can help with these challenges and more. Our services include Hospice Care, HeartWise Specialized Care, the Joe Raso Hospice Residence and Bereavement Services. We help patients and families develop personalized care plans that will address all of their needs in a way that is most comfortable and supportive to everyone involved.

To learn more about United Hospice services, visit hospiceofrockland.org/our-services

 

New Year Resolutions: Tips for Caregivers

UH NY 2020 010620.jpgFor many caregivers, “just make it through the day” is a resolution they make every morning.
But only setting sights on short-term survival is a recipe for exhaustion.

Caregivers, by definition, give, and rarely ever take, even when they need something. But you can only care for someone else if you are rested, can control stress and feel your best – or at least the best you can.

Here are some resolutions to help caregivers be healthier, more organized and more present in 2020.

Ask for the help you need. No one can “do it all” on their own. Caregivers need and deserve help. Make a list of specific items friends and family can help you with. The next time someone asks what they can help with, refer to your list. A support team, whether friends, family, or hospice, will free you to make the most of your time with your loved one.

Complete necessary paperwork. Discuss your loved one’s wishes for medical treatment and complete the paperwork to ensure those wishes will be carried out. Your loved one will need to have a current will, trust, durable financial power of attorney (POA), as well as a medical power of attorney and advanced health care directive, or “living will.” Provide updated copies of the completed health care directive to your loved one’s healthcare providers and any other decision-makers in the family. Assuring Your Wishes can help you get organized and get the paperwork in place.

Take care of yourself. Caregiver respite is critical, so schedule the time and support you need to take a little time off for self-care. Recharge mentally and physically with a little R-and-R, spending time on a favorite hobby, or exploring a new place. Consider making a support group or counseling a part of your healthier routine.

Say “no.” “If you need something done, give it to a busy person,” as the saying goes. But you are busy enough. You don’t need to volunteer, take on extra work or do favors for people right now. Practice saying, “I wish I could, but this isn’t a good time,” or just plain, “No.”

Make amends. Don’t wait until it is too late to apologize, or too late to accept an apology. Many people wait until late in life to try to heal old emotional wounds, and then don’t have time to enjoy the rekindled relationships. When you can, and it is healthy for you, reach out to let bygones be bygones.

If you need support, United Hospice is here for you. Contact us at 845.634.4974 or info@hospiceofrockland.org to learn more about our support services for caregivers and patients.

 

Grief, joy and guilt: Coping with loss during the holidays

Moving on doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten a loved one.

That’s the message of this touching and inspiring TED talk by author and podcaster Nora McInery, who offers valuable and comforting insights about life after a loved one’s death.

"A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again," McInery says. "They're going to move forward. But that doesn't mean that they've moved on."

View the video below or on YouTube: www.ted.com/talks/nora_mcinerny_we_don_t_move_on_from_grief_we_move_forward_with_it?language=en

 

Celebrating memories: Coping with loss during the holidays

UHR memories coping holidays 121919 main.jpgThe first holiday season after losing a loved one can be difficult and confusing.

While you may want to get into the spirit of the holidays, memories of years past can bring a fresh wave of grief.

But the holidays can be a time to confront grief and take steps toward healing. The end of the year is a time to be contemplative about the past but also look forward to a brighter future.

Part of getting through the first holiday season after the death of someone close to you is to celebrate their memory.

  • Set aside a special time for remembrance. There is a lot of pressure during the holidays to be happy. Designating time for sadness and grief can be healthy for everyone who is missing your loved one.
  • While the family is all together, share and record holiday memories of your loved one. Did they make the best cookies? Pick the ugliest trees? Take the family to a special event every year? Write it all down while the memories are fresh, and you can cherish them for years to come.
  • Frame some holiday photos of seasons past to display during holiday festivities. It will help you remember happier times, and make it feel as though your loved one is still a part of your celebrations.
  • Keeping up with family traditions can be a great way for everyone to share their stories and grieve together as you remember years past. If those memories feel too painful this year, it’s OK to skip the tradition. Or to find a new tradition that works with your family as it is now.
  • Donate to your loved one's favorite charity or “adopt” a family in need for the holidays in their honor.

You are on your own timeline for grieving, and you can grieve in whatever way is best for you.

United Hospice has resources available during the holidays for families who have lost loved ones, either in the past year or at any time. Bereavement services are available for spouses, adults who have lost their parents, children coping with loss and other opportunities to share your grief and get the support you need.

At our Hope & Healing Program at the Provident Bank Hope & Healing Center, you’ll find specially trained counselors, clinical social workers and volunteers who have unique expertise in all aspects of grief. Our bereavement support team can help you navigate the grieving process through the holidays and throughout the year.

We also invite you to remember loved ones with stars on our Tree of Life, which continues through Dec. 24 at Palisades Mall.

United Hospice's Hope & Healing Program at the Provident Bank Hope & Healing Center offers these holiday coping tips: Coping with the Holidays.

However you choose to manage or experience your grief during the holiday season, remember that you have people who care about you and support you. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

 

Celebrating each day: Making the most of the holidays with a loved one in hospice care

UH celebrate 1219.jpgYour last holiday season with a loved one who is in hospice care is a precious time.

There will be grief and tears, but it's also a time to celebrate the years you have had together.

The most important way to spend the holidays is time with each other, making everyone feel loved and making memories everyone can share during the holiday seasons to come.

Hospice patients may not have the energy to participate in outings or travel. It’s important to tailor events to their comfort level before trying to cram every holiday activity into the calendar. Manage your expectations and don’t feel as though you’ve failed if things don’t go according to plan.

Pare down activities to what’s truly important. Ask your loved one which traditions are most important to them and adapt activities to their needs. A midnight mass can become a reading and prayers at home. A holiday outing to a live performance can become a day of favorite movies curled up on the couch or in bed. A traditional trek to visit relatives can become a planned video chat session.

Comfort from the kitchen. Many hospice patients are limited in what they can eat or have even lost their appetite. With considerations for dietary restrictions, prepare a few holiday favorites for your loved one in hospice care. Even if they can’t eat a heaping plate full, they may enjoy a bite or two, or just relish the smell and sight of traditional foods and family recipes.

Celebrate the season. If your loved one is religious, plan to attend services, if possible, or to incorporate spiritual activities into your home festivities.

Take a break, caregivers. If you are a family caregiver, allow yourself to take a step back and focus on yourself and your family. Don’t feel pressured to keep up your typical holiday pace or to make the holidays perfect for everyone.
Call United Hospice for help. At our Hope & Healing Program at the Provident Bank Hope & Healing Center, you’ll find specially trained counselors, clinical social workers and volunteers who have unique expertise in all aspects of grief. Our bereavement support team can help you navigate the grieving process through the holidays and throughout the year.

We also invite you to remember loved ones with stars on our Tree of Life, which continues through Dec. 24 at Palisades Mall.

We're here for you and your family throughout the holiday season, whether you need respite care or emotional support. Call us any time at 845-634-4974.

Gifts for those in Hospice Care

UHR gifts xmas main.jpgWhen you have a loved one in hospice, no holiday gift seems to be enough. But sometimes the simplest gifts are the best way to show your love.

Here are some ideas for gifts that we’ve seen our United Hospice patients truly love over the years.
Something to remember. It’s easy to upload a collection of photos and have and album printed online or to have old home movies transferred to DVD. Take time to watch, look and share memories.

Something cozy. Soft blankets, scented candles, a down pillow, fuzzy socks, white noise machine – put together a comfort kit for cozy relaxation and sleep.

Something to make them feel like themselves. If they weren’t in hospice, what would you give them? A coffee cup with an off-color joke? A sports jersey? Beatles box set? Hospice patients like to know you see them as who they are, not as just a patient.

uhr gifts menorah main 1219.jpgSomething to make them laugh. If you have a private joke, put it on a T-shirt. Frame a goofy party photo. Get a Chia Pet of a favorite character. There will be plenty of serious – add a little silly.

Something fun. Get out and DO something, together. Tickets to a play or a concert, gift cards for a movie date (with popcorn) or passes for a festival or other event are a wonderful gift for hospice patients who are still up for a day or night out.

Something only you can give – your time. It can be hard to slow down for even a minute during the holidays, but your time is the most precious gift you can give to someone in hospice.  Whether you can carve out an afternoon, schedule a few shorter visits or take a whole day, your love and support will be treasured.

Whatever it is, a gift that is meaningful to you and your loved one and comes from the heart will always be the best gift of all.

 

Coping with grief during the holidays

UH holiday H main.jpgCoping with grief during the holidays can be especially difficult. It’s a time to bring up old memories and share traditions, and these things can be painful when you are missing a loved one. Expectations for happiness and fun are impossibly high even in the best times, and this year you may feel as though you should set aside your grief and just get in the spirit.

It’s normal to feel a new wave of grief and to feel overwhelmed. Remember that you are on your own timeline for grieving, and you should grieve in whatever way is best for you.

So how can you and your family and friends cope with grief and even get some joy into the holiday season?
Whether it’s a special recipe, holiday activity, or even a song, embracing your traditions can give you a feeling of comfort and continuance. It’s an opportunity to talk about your loved one and keep their memory alive.

UH holiday c main.jpgIf the old traditions feel too painful, start something new. Maybe it’s a holiday movie night with friends or a holiday lunch date. Or announce, “New tradition! Grandkids go pick out the Christmas tree!”

As impossible as it may sound, it’s important to lower your stress levels. You may feel under extra pressure to make this holiday season perfect for everyone. It’s OK to let some things slide or to delegate responsibilities to other guests and family members. If you need to take a break and have some quiet time, do it.

Remember that others are grieving, too, in their own way. Try not to be frustrated with those who seem “too happy” or who need to withdraw from some activities to cope.

Set aside a special time for remembrance. Designating time for sadness and grief can be healthy for everyone who is missing your loved one.

Help make sure that younger children can talk about their feelings, too. Let them know it’s OK to be happy during the holidays even if a part of them is still sad.

Frame some holiday photos of seasons past to display during holiday festivities. It will help you remember happier times, and make it feel as though your loved one is still a part of your celebrations.

Donate to your loved one's favorite charity or nonprofit or volunteer in their honor. It will do your heart good and benefit something important to your loved one.

United Hospice has resources available during the holidays for families who have lost loved ones, either in the past year or at any time. We have bereavement services available for spouses, adults who have lost their parents, children coping with loss and other opportunities to share your grief and get the support you need. Our Hope & Healing Program at the Provident Bank Hope & Healing Center is staffed by specially trained counselors, clinical social workers and volunteers who have unique expertise in all aspects of grief. For more information, please contact our Bereavement Department at 845-634-4974 or email bereavement@hospiceofrrockland.org.

We also invite you to remember loved ones with stars on our Tree of Life. Our Annual Tree of Life Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, December 4, at 7:30 p.m.

However you choose to manage or experience your grief during the holiday season, remember that you have people who care about you and support you. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

 

We Honor Veterans at United Hospice

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Today we celebrate Veterans Day, a special day to salute the men and women who have bravely served our country in the military.

United Hospice honors our veterans, their families and their sacrifice every day as a We Honor Veterans Hospice Partner. United Hospice is proud to be recognized as a We Honor Veterans Hospice Partner.

Our mission for our Veterans includes:

  • Thanking Veterans for their service to our country.
  • Pairing Volunteers and caregivers with Veteran patients.
  • Showing appreciation for the families of Veterans.
  • Giving Veterans an opportunity to tell their stories.
  • Respecting Veterans’ service, their feelings, and any suggestions they might offer.
  • Always be sincere, caring, compassionate and ready and able to listen to what a Veteran or his or her family member has to share about their unique situation.
  • Being supportive and non-judgmental and always validate their feelings and concerns.

Our veterans deserve the best in compassionate care. We work with them, on their terms, to make every day meaningful.

Since Hospice Care is part of the VHA Standard Medical Benefits Package, all enrolled Veterans are eligible if they meet the clinical need for the service. There are no co-pays for Hospice Care, whether it is provided by the VA or an organization with a VA contract.

To learn more about the HVP program, contact Liz Alvarado, Director of Counseling,  at ealvarado@hospiceofrockland.org or visit www.wehonorveterans.org.

 

Tips for a happier, healthier winter

UHR winter health 1119.jpgWinter is around the corner and brings us a snowy wonderland and holiday fun, but also dangerous weather, stress, flu and high heating bills.

Here are some tips for a happier and healthier winter season.

Fight the flu - If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, now is the time. Your immune system needs time to build up before you are in contact with an increased number of people over the holidays, and before peak flu season arrives, typically just after the holidays. Flu is most likely to have severe consequences for older adults and anyone with a compromised immune system. Your flu shot will help protect them and people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons.

Talk to your doctor about depression – If you have a loved one in hospice care, you are probably dealing with sadness, grief, depression and fatigue. As the days grow shorter, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can magnify your symptoms. The holidays also trigger depression, especially for those who have recently lost a loved one. Try to spend time in natural light, outdoors, or by letting natural daylight into the home for a few hours each day. There are also sun-mimicking lights that are designed to help those with SAD. Talk to your doctor about ways you can stay emotionally and mentally healthy.

Keep an eye on your diet - Holiday treats, a lack of seasonal produce and the urge to eat comfort food make it challenging to maintain a healthy diet during the winter months. Frozen fruits and veggies have been shown to have more nutrients than fresh in many cases! Look for lower fat and salt versions of favorite comfort foods and holiday favorites. Boost your immune system with daily vitamins, especially Vitamin C, and eating foods rich in zinc, such as fish, poultry and eggs.

Stay hydrated – Before you reach for one of those holiday treats, drink a tall glass of water. Our bodies can confuse mild dehydration with hunger. You may not feel as thirsty in winter versus the heat of summer, but it’s important to drink the recommended amount of water or fluids every day.

Check your detectors – Winter is the peak season for house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning in homes. Many types of heat, including fireplaces, natural gas, space heaters and kerosene heaters increase the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Change the batteries in carbon monoxide/smoke detectors and test them to make sure they are working. These detectors should be placed on every floor and in every bedroom. Check out your chimneys and make sure fire extinguishers are up to date and easily accessible.

Stock the shelves – Don’t get snowed in without supplies! Before the storm season begins, stock up on necessities. A well-stocked pantry and extra medical supplies can give you peace of mind when the snow starts drifting. Also, prepare for power outages with flashlights, batteries and non-perishable foods. Set up a network of places you can stay if you need electricity for heat or medical equipment.

Be a heat miser – Keep the heat indoors and lower your heat bills by winterizing your home. Check the weather stripping around doors and windows. Use curtains to keep out the cold. If there are bare wood, tile, or concrete floors in the home, consider adding area rugs to block out the cold from the slab or crawlspace. (Use floor-gripping pads and tape down the edges of rugs, so they don’t present a trip hazard.) Keep plenty of cuddly throws around so you can snuggle up anywhere in the house.

Brave the cold – A  little fresh air and sunshine is good for the mind and body. Dress in warm layers and wear a hat to retain body heat. And don't forget sunscreen and sunglasses to protect you from the sun and glare. Getting outside can boost your mood, and a little sunshine can help generate some Vitamin D, which can become low during the winter months spent indoors.

Drive safely - Don’t forget to winterize your car. Check the battery, oil, antifreeze, tires and windshield wipers. Pack an emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, non-perishable snacks, blankets, extra clothes, chemically activated hand warmers, jumper cables and a powerful flashlight that can be used as a signal. Keep a bag of inexpensive clay kitty litter in the trunk to add traction to icy surfaces. And keep your phone on the charger while driving, so you always have enough power to call for emergency help.

If you have any physical or mental health concerns, United Hospice of Rockland is here to help. Call us at 845.634.4974 or email info@hospiceofrockland.org.

 

November is National Hospice & Palliative Care Month

Each year, about 1.5 million people with life-limiting illnesses receive care hospice and palliative care. This month we honor the nurses, therapists, social workers and volunteers who honor life, give care and bring comfort to patients and their families during a most difficult journey. Thank you to everyone who helps United Hospice achieve our mission of making every moment matter for the people we serve!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Zack Kraushaar

UHR volunteer 0919 Zack 2.jpgZack Kraushaar has volunteered for United Hospice (UH) for the past six years and is a former Youth for Hospice (YFH) member.

Zack graduated from Clarkstown North in 2017 and was not only an active Youth for Hospice member for the Clarkstown North chapter, but he was also the Vice President for all of Youth for Hospice! Zack is now 20 years old and is attending Colgate University, majoring in Biology with a Pre-Med or Pre-Dental future.

So, why would a teenager want to volunteer at UH? Zack’s family established the values of giving back to the community and suggested he should volunteer at UH. It started with Zack’s cousin, then his brother and two sisters, who were all members of our Youth for Hospice Program. During Zack’s tenure in Youth for Hospice, he took on many different roles volunteering at UH. He assisted in the office, planned fundraising events for UH, and volunteered at special events like the Walk to Remember and the Tree of Life.

“I never realized the impact that hospice care has on not only the patient but the family members too,” Zack said. “It was such an enlightening experience when I received a tour of the Joe Raso Hospice Residence. I was so touched and humbled by the residence, and it gave me such a greater appreciation of life.”

Zack decided to come back to volunteer at UH since he wanted to volunteer at a healthcare organization and loved his experience as a YFH member. Since he is considering being a doctor or a dentist, he requested to shadow our Medical Director, Dr. David Chmielewski to gain a greater understanding of what it would be like to be a Hospice MD. Zack said his time volunteering with UH showed him that being a hospice and palliative care doctor would be a very fulfilling job. Zack also said that he was so surprised to see the different resources available at UH and had no idea that patients were also able to receive bereavement services and complementary therapies, such as massage, music, pet, etc.

UH is very fortunate to have such a wonderful young man who wants to volunteer his time to our organization and who is also a Hospice Ambassador for the younger generation. Zack’s advice to the upcoming Youth for Hospice members: “Don’t just join for your friends or family, really take the time to understand the UH mission and help educate the community on all the benefits of hospice care. I would also suggest that every Youth for Hospice member take a tour of the Joe Raso Hospice Residence; it will really make a difference.”

Learn more about Youth for Hospice at unitedhospiceinc.org/volunteer/youth-hospice.

Read our Summer Impact newsletter at unitedhospiceinc.org/news/newsletters.

 

Memories with grandchildren: Ways to play when grandparents are ill or have limited mobility

UHR grand day 0919.jpgThis Sunday, September 8, is National Grandparents Day, an opportunity to recognize all that our grandparents (and our children’s grandparents) have done for us throughout our lives.

Today, many grandparents are fortunate enough to remain active and well and can spend lots of time with their grandchildren. For other grandparents, the need to slow down, mobility issues, ongoing medical care, or even facing the end of life can make it more difficult to connect — grandchildren who are elementary age and younger and may not fully understand a grandparent’s limitations.

If you ask a grandparent, they’ll tell you the most important thing is spending time with family. Forget elaborate trips or exhausting outings and focus on togetherness, communication and fun.

And while it’s tempting for parents to run interference and micromanage activities, it’s important to step back and allow grandchildren and grandparents to form their own, unique relationships.

  • Grandparents with mobility issues may be up to playing tabletop games. A deck of cards offers possibilities for all ages. Or revisit boardgame classics such as Candy Land or Monopoly. Age-appropriate puzzles can encourage generations to cooperate and work together as a team.
  • For younger children, coloring and simple craft projects can be fun activities that leave the grandparents with a souvenir for their refrigerator. Consider projects that use photos of the grandchildren and grandparents together, such as picture frames, holiday ornaments, collages, or even paper dolls.
  • Find a favorite book from grandma or grandpa’s childhood and track down a copy for them to share and discuss. Talking about a favorite book will naturally lead to other conversations about a grandparent’s childhood favorites and other experiences.
  • Raising the next generation of movie buffs? Favorite classic TV series and movies are readily available on streaming services or DVD. Watching together with a big bowl of popcorn is quality time that doesn’t require a lot of activity or exertion.

Don’t feel as though togetherness needs to be a major production. It’s often the simple things make the best memories. Introduce a common interest, step back and watch the grandparent magic happen!

 

Advance Directives: Making your wishes known

UHR AD main 0819.jpgWhen loved ones are seriously ill or injured in an accident and unable to communicate their wishes, the pressure is on families to make life-or-death decisions about extreme treatment measures.

Advance directives allow you to convey your end-of-life wishes if you are unable to communicate.

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on.

A Living Will allows you to document your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life. It specifies which treatments you want to sustain life if you are dying or permanently unconscious. It instructs your family and medical team about treatments you want to accept and refuse. Decisions may relate to:

  • Dialysis
  • Ventilator use
  • CPR
  • Tube feeding
  • IV hydration
  • Comfort care
  • Organ or tissue donation  

A Health Care Proxy (also known as a health care power of attorney) allows you to appoint a person you trust as your health care agent, who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that names your health care proxy.

Your proxy should be familiar with your values and wishes. They should be trusted to support your decisions as outlined in your living will. Some people are afraid that rejecting specific treatments with a living will is what they want in one instance but not another. A named health care proxy can evaluate each situation or treatment option independently.

A Do Not Resuscitate Order, or DNR is a physician’s order that directs health care professionals and emergency medical personnel NOT to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation if your heart or breathing stops. Your New York documents will not be effective in the event of a medical emergency. Ambulance personnel are required to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) unless they are given a separate DNR order that states otherwise. A DNR is only completed when someone is chronically or seriously ill.

An Organ Donor Designation allows you to document your wishes regarding donating your organs after your death. Even if you have indicated that you would like to be an organ donor, your family or health care proxy/agent must give their permission for organ donation, so make sure they know your wishes to take place.

How do I create advance directives?

You can prepare your own advance directives. Most people do not need an attorney to prepare advance directives paperwork. Forms are available through the state and the United Hospice at the links listed above.

When you are ready to create your advance directives, you should:

  • Prepare your advance directives to reflect your decisions.
  • Read instructions carefully to ensure that you have included all necessary information.
  • Have your documents witnessed.
  • Use your state-specific advance directives.
  • Include requests concerning hospice care, organ donation, cremation, or burial.
  • Make your physician and loved ones aware of your specific requests so appropriate referrals and arrangements can be made.

When does my proxy take over my health care decisions?

Before a medical power of attorney goes into effect, a person's physician must conclude that a person is unable to make their own medical decisions. If a person regains the ability to make decisions, the health care proxy no longer acts on the person's behalf.

Making your wishes known

After completing your advance directives, you need to talk to your family, your healthcare team and friends about your wishes. It’s important to keep the originals in a secure but accessible place. Give copies to your agent, family members, doctor, or anyone who may be involved in your health care decisions.

  • If you enter a nursing home or hospital, have photocopies of your documents placed in your medical records.
  • Discuss your wishes with your proxy and doctor often, especially if your medical condition changes.
  • If you want to make changes to your documents after they have been signed and witnessed, you must complete new documents.
  • Update your documents if you have an important change in your life or health, such as a new diagnosis or a change in marital status.
  • You can always revoke one or both of your New York documents.
  • Review advance directives at least once every ten years to make sure your choices are still in line with your values and wishes.

United Hospice, Inc., has developed the perfect solution for you. It is a free, secure, web (internet) based site that enables your documents to be safely stored and accessed by health professionals when they are needed. It is called www.assuringyourwishes.org. Print a copy of the enrollment form and sign it. Mail the enrollment form with copies (NOT the originals) of your advance directives to:

Assuringyourwishes.org
c/o United Hospice
New City, NY 10956

We will scan and upload the documents to the website and mail back your documents along with three ID cards that include your name and password. One card is designed for you to carry in your wallet, one is for your health care agent and one is for your physician. Instructions to retrieve your directives are on the back of the card. You can request additional wallet cards by calling us at 845.634.4974.

If you have questions or would like more information about advance directives, contact United Hospice at 845.634.4974 or info@unitedhospiceinc.org.

 

Your bucket list: Achieving goals and making dreams come true

UHR bucket list 0819.jpgWhen people think of bucket lists, they often think of big items like travel or skydiving.

But a bucket list can be more about personal goals, such as overcoming fears, reliving memories or making peace. And, in most cases, you can have fun and get happy along the way!

Before engaging in any activity that involves physical exertion or the risk of injury, get the OK from your doctor.

Take the risk – Conquering fear is a great way to feel at your most alive and powerful. Sure, this could mean sky diving. Or, it could mean riding a rollercoaster, getting onstage for karaoke night, auditioning for a play, or entering a pie-baking contest. If fear of heights or embarrassment or failure has been holding you back, it’s time to kick those worries to the curb.

Revisit childhood – This could mean visit the homes and neighborhoods where you grew up and made memories. Or, it could mean a day of watching favorite childhood movies, indulging in some favorite candy, looking through photos and dancing to some “oldies.” Hit the zoo; ride a go-cart; go to the beach; fly a kite. Remember what made you happy when you were five years old? Make it happen again.

Splurge –We often miss out on things we want to do because it is simply too expensive. But if seeing your favorite team play or going to a Broadway show is on your list, spend a little (or a lot) and treat yourself!

Spend time in nature – Shutting down all the screens and focusing on the natural world decreases stress, boosts happiness and renews the soul. Horseback riding, kayaking, or even ziplining can give a new perspective on the world.

Get weird with it – Ever have a fun, crazy idea but didn’t what people to stare? Now is the time to dye your hair blue, go grocery shopping in a tutu, or hand out roses to strangers on the street.

Make amends - Looking back on your life, are there hurts you would like to heal? Apologies to make? Reach out to people and say the things you need to say.

Don’t wait until the last minute to call hospice! Your list is long, and we can help!

United Hospice offers patients and families the support they need to live life to its fullest, even if time is short. Contact us today for more information: 845.634.4974 or info@unitedhospiceinc.org.

 

Who pays for Hospice?

UHR paying for hospice 0819.jpgWhen facing the serious illness and death of a loved one, medical expenses are one more looming stressor for families.

One reason people hesitate to call hospice is misinformation and understanding about who pays for hospice services and how those expenses are paid. Another huge medical bill is not an option.

But the fact is, both Medicaid and Medicare cover hospice services, as does the Veteran’s Health Administration and most private insurers.

No family should suffer unnecessarily because they think they cannot afford hospice. Here's a summary of how Hospice is paid.

Who covers hospice costs?

Hospice is covered by Medicare and by Medicaid in New York State, by the Veterans Administration and most private health insurance policies. To be sure of your coverage, hospice will check with your health insurance provider and inform you of any charges. (Please note: Medicare does not cover the room and board charge associated with the Joe Raso Hospice Residence.)

What benefits cover hospice?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit is the most common payor for hospice services in most states. People are eligible for Medicaid when their income and assets are low. Medicaid benefits are very similar to the Medicare Hospice Benefits.

Are there hospice benefits for veterans?

The Veteran's Health Administration covers hospice care. It provides benefits that are very similar to the Medicare Hospice Benefits.

What about private insurance for hospice care?

Many private insurance companies provide some coverage options for hospice care. Check with your insurer to learn more about your hospice coverage and qualifications. Private insurers may have different eligibility requirements.

I don't have insurance, and I don't think I'm eligible for hospice benefit programs. What should I do?

For individuals who do not have insurance and can't afford hospice services, a hospice may provide care either free or on a sliding scale. This financial assistance is provided through donations, gifts, grants or other community sources. United Hospice can help you determine if you are eligible for free or reduced cost care.

If Medicare or any other health insurance will not cover the patient, will hospice still provide care?

First hospice assists the families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any additional coverage they don’t know about. A financial assessment can determine any benefits for which you qualify and any fees that may have to be paid out of pocket. In any case, Hospice care is provided regardless of the family's ability to pay.

How do I know if I qualify for hospice benefits?

A patient's eligibility for hospice benefits may vary depending on who is covering the cost of care. Most hospice care in the U.S. is covered by the Medicare Hospice Benefit, which requires:
•    Patients have been diagnosed with a terminal illness
•    Be 65 years or older
•    Doctor and a hospice medical director certify that the patient has less than six months to live

Many other hospice benefit programs follow these same guidelines set by Medicare.

If you have any questions about hospice services or how you or a loved one are able to pay for hospice, please call United Hospice and we will be happy to help you assess your needs and options. Contact us at 845.634.4974.

Sources: unitedhospiceinc.org, americanhospice.org

 

Recording your history

UHR hospice oral history main.jpgAt the end of life, people often want to take the chance to look back at everything they have done – and to make sure their stories will be passed on.

By recording an oral history, you can preserve memories in a person's own words and voice.

Cell phones and digital cameras have made it easier than ever to record, preserve and share the stories of the people we love.  All you need is a little preparation and the time to have a conversation that spans a lifetime of stories.

Preparing for the interview

After you have set up a time when you and your loved one can be uninterrupted, make a list of questions. You'll want a mix, from personal and specific questions about life events, such as their best childhood memory, a first date, or first car to questions about how they felt about family life, how they felt about world events or some of the challenges they have faced.

Avoid yes-or-no questions. Instead ask open questions such as, "Tell me about the first house you grew up in" or “How did your family celebrate holidays?”

These questions can help you get started:

  • How did your parents meet?
  • What was your favorite childhood vacation?
  • How did you meet your spouse?
  • Tell me about your wedding day.
  • What were you like in high school?
  • Tell me about your activities and friends.
  • What was your first job? How did you spend your first paycheck?
  • Tell me about some of your favorite movies, songs or TV shows.
  • Who are some of your heroes?

If your family member is nervous about an interview, let them look over the questions ahead of time.

Decide if you are going to record video or audio. If you decide to make a video, back it up with an audio recording and take some still photographs as well.

Conducting your interview

Think of your interview as an opportunity for learning about your family and yourself, not as a history project. You aren't trying to nail down dates and facts; you want to know more about your loved one's life. Questions are there to guide you, but they shouldn't be a rigid structure.

It's essential to let stories unfold at their own pace. Interrupting may break your loved one's train of thought, and it could be challenging to get it back on track. If the story veers wildly in another direction, ask a simple question that can get you back to the original story. Or go with it!

Make notes as you talk to help you remember things you may want to ask about later. A person, place, or event mentioned in passing may have a tale of its own.

Be prepared for stories and memories that aren't happy, as well. They may be difficult to hear. It may be the first time your loved one has felt safe to talk about it. Listen with love and understanding.

Photos are a great way to jog the memory and bring up stories that may otherwise never surface. If you have pictures from their childhood, high school and college years, military service, wedding albums, etc., take time to go through them together. It can also be a chance to identify people and places in unlabeled photos.

Preserving and sharing your loved one's history

Your family may already have photos, film, videos, or cassette recordings of family stories and events. It's crucial to create new copies of these archival documents before they physically deteriorate, or their playback technology is obsolete. Many companies can transfer analog recordings to digital formats. Then you can further ensure their survival by uploading them to a cloud or file-sharing website, making them more easily accessible. Creating interviews and albums can be a lot of work, but also a memory in itself. Generations from now, your family's story will still be heard.

 

Preparing for emergencies

UHR emergency.jpgBeing a caregiver for a loved one on hospice is challenging day-to-day. As time goes on, caregivers face the added likelihood of a health emergency at home.

Symptoms may develop quickly, during the night or on the weekend, when access to emergency or urgent assistance is more limited. Being able to offer relief at home prevents suffering and reduces visits to the emergency department and inpatient hospitalizations.

Hospice patients, depending on their illness and the stage of their disease, can experience a variety of symptoms that can be alleviated through emergency home care, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Excessive secretions
  • Dyspnea
  • Infection with fever
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Pain
  • Peripheral edema
  • Pulmonary congestion

Having the right medications and supplies on hand to alleviate these symptoms means you can offer immediate relief. Home emergency kits have been shown to prevent up to 75 percent of emergency department visits and dramatically reduce the number of hospital admissions.

Hospice will help make sure you are stocked with supplies and equipment you need for daily care and emergencies. This can include but is not limited to:

  • Bandages and other wound care supplies
  • Disposable gloves
  • Incontinence supplies
  • Nebulizer
  • Ostomy supplies
  • Oxygen concentrator and portable tanks
  • Suction equipment

United Hospice guides family and home caregivers in learning about using medications and equipment and responding to a health emergency. The patient’s healthcare team can determine what should be on hand in the home.

Having a home emergency kit and plan can take away some of the stress related to being a family caregiver. Talk to your team at UH and your healthcare team to ensure you are prepared for emergency care.

 

Hospice Myths and Facts

Fact: Hospice care does not mean you have given up.hospice myths .jpg

Fact: Hospice care does not mean you are counting down the days to good-bye.

Fact: Hospice is here to make every day you have the best it can be through medical, emotional and spiritual support.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about hospice services and what hospice can and will do for terminally ill patients and their loved ones.

Here are a few of the misbeliefs we hear from families who come to United Hospice.

Myth: Hospice care is for individuals who are very close to death.
Fact: An early referral to our program enables individuals and families to fully benefit from our services and support. If you think you or a loved one might benefit from hospice services, feel free to call us.

Myth: Choosing hospice means the patient no longer receives treatments or therapies.
Fact: Treatments or therapies may be administered to provide comfort care. When appropriate patients receive care and treatment such as physical therapy, massage therapy and music therapy in an effort to maximize their functioning and quality of life.

Myth: Hospice patients must be home bound.
Fact: Patients need not be home bound to receive services. We help patients to be as active as possible.

Myth: Hospice provides care only for patients.
Fact: Hospice also focuses attention on the patient's family. Emotional and spiritual support as well as caregiver education and volunteer services are geared to meet the needs of loved ones.

Myth: Only senior citizens can receive hospice services.
Fact: Hospice care is available for people of all ages - infants, children, adults and seniors.

Myth: Hospice only provides care for people diagnosed with cancer.
Fact: Hospice provides care for seriously ill individuals and their loved ones regardless of diagnosis.

Myth: Hospice patients can no longer see their own physician.
Fact: Hospice encourages patients’ physicians to follow the patient and participate in their care.

Myth: Hospice care is only for those with private insurance.
Fact: Hospice serves everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Community hospice care is fully covered under Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans.

Myth: Hospice patients must have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order in place in to receive services.
Fact: There is NO requirement for a patient to have a DNR order except at the Joe Raso Hospice Residence.

Myth: Once someone is admitted onto the hospice program, they cannot leave.
Fact: Individuals can choose to discontinue hospice services at any time.

Myth: Accepting hospice care means that hope is lost.
Fact: Hope for cure is transformed to hope for comfort, acceptance and peace.

Myth: Hospice staff encourages the use of morphine for all hospice patients.
Fact: Morphine is often used to control pain or shortness of breath. Not all patients experience these symptoms. Each person’s symptoms are controlled in consultation with their physician in a way that works best for them.

Myth: If I don't make use of every possible technology available, or if I tell the doctor to stop using machines to keep me or my loved one alive, I am essentially killing myself or him/her.
Fact: It is the illness that will cause your/your loved one's death, not the decision to forego further treatment or extraordinary measures.

If you have questions about hospice care or services, United Hospice is here to provide honest answers and the support you and your loved ones need to get through a difficult time.

Long distance care tips

UHR long distance care.jpgFamilies separated by long distances face unique challenges in caring for a loved one with a serious illness.

Long-distance caregivers may be frustrated by their inability to participate in everyday care and may also feel guilty about letting those responsibilities fall to others.

But there are ways for families to stay connected and support each other.

If you have family acting as the everyday, hands-on caregiver, respect the work that they are doing. If you disagree with a decision or course of action, approach it as a discussion rather than as a demand.

Forge relationships with your loved one’s care team and set up a schedule for regular communications. If family is keeping you up to date and you are in touch with your loved one, you may only need to speak to the care team once or twice a week, with updates increasing as time goes on.

Technology makes it easy to keep in touch by phone or by video chat. Talk to your loved one and get their perspective on their care. Let them know that you are only a phone call away, you love them, and they can count on your support. Face-to-face communications also offers the opportunity to monitor their emotional wellbeing and health.

Work with family and the healthcare team to find ways to contribute from a distance. Are there tasks that can be accomplished over the phone or online? Are there additional services that you could hire to help local family caregivers, such as housekeeping or meal service? Can you help arrange care to offer family caregivers some respite?

Perhaps the most challenging part of being a long-distance caregiver is knowing that you will get the call telling you it’s time to say goodbye. Prepare and be ready if there are sudden changes in your loved one’s health.
Contact United Hospice for support any time at 845.634.4974 or email info@unitedhospiceinc.org for more information about our services.

 

Remembering dad on Father's Day

UHR Fathers Day 19.jpgOn Father’s Day, United Hospice says thank you to fathers who are still with us and to those who have passed on for their love, sacrifice and wisdom.

Losing your father feels like losing a big part of yourself, leaving you with only memories to forge ahead into the future without his voice and guidance.

There is no way for most of us to adequately thank our fathers for everything they have given us. Father’s Day is a time to remember the lessons they taught us and the times they made us laugh and to save those memories to hand down to future generations.

Explore and record his stories to keep his memory bright and share it with others who will find it inspiring and comforting.

Save his stories. You may have heard your dad's stories a thousand times, but as time goes on the details can slip away. Take the time to write down stories he told you from his childhood and growing up, favorite family anecdotes from your childhood, stories of successes and failures and all the things that made your dad who he was. It's a record you can pass on to family, friends and the next generation.

Share traditions with others. Was your dad an avid fisherman? Musician? Poker champion? Get friends and family together and take part in some of his favorite hobbies in his honor. Sharing these activities will help people open up about their memories – and create new ones.

Write down his words of wisdom. Chances are your dad gave you a lot of advice throughout your life – some of which you only appreciated years after the fact. Make a list of his favorite sayings and the best advice he gave you so you can read it, remember and share it with those who might need a little guidance.

Spend time with your father's friends and family and hear their stories. Chances are, they are missing him, too. The stories of their shared history may reveal a side of your father that you didn’t know. Take the opportunity to learn something new about who your dad was as a friend, a cousin, a brother or a co-worker.

Research your family tree. More stories wait to be uncovered in your family history.  With so many events, photos, yearbooks, newspapers, audio, video and more archived online, some simple research can lead you to discover hidden treasures about your dad and the generations before that all led up to you being who you are.
Grieving is a healthy and normal response to any loss. It is essential to find the support that can give you the strength to live a healthy and full life while you work through your grief.

If you are having a difficult time coping with the death of your father, United Hospice offers the Hope & Healing Program with specially trained counselors, clinical social workers and volunteers who have unique expertise in all aspects of grief. Our bereavement support team can help you navigate the grieving process and accommodate to your new normal.

Learn more at www.unitedhospiceinc.org/bereavement-services.

 

Tips for coping with grief on Mother’s Day

Coping on mothers day tips.jpgAfter losing your mother, Mother’s Day can be painful or bittersweet.

You may be overwhelmed with grief or feel ready to celebrate your mother’s memory.

Every journey is different, and you should heal on your own timeline and in your own way.

Here are some ideas to help you manage Mother’s Day and find some solace and joy in your mother’s memory.

Take time out for grieving. Find some alone time, cry, go through old photos or just curl up in bed. Then you can devote time to celebrating of your mom's life, sharing memories and feeling the love and support of your family and friends. You don’t have to choose one or the other.

Invite your mother’s memory into your day. Use her favorite flowers as a centerpiece, cook one of her specialties, watch a favorite movie. Controlling some of the triggers can help you manage feelings in smaller doses.
Make new memories. Are you spending the day with your own children or grandchildren? Take the opportunity to build some great memories of the time they spend with you. If you feel like it, carry on traditions you built with your own mother and share your stories.

Give in her memory. Donate to her favorite charity in her honor or spend the day volunteering with an organization she supported.

Everyone experiences grief a different way but if you feel your grief is interfering with your daily activities or stopping you from enjoying your life, consider joining a support group. United Hospice offers bereavement services and resources to the families of our patients and the community. You can learn more at www.unitedhospiceinc.org.

We at United Hospice understand how difficult Mother's Day can be after losing a mother. We hope that you will follow your journey of grieving, on your own time, and spend your day doing what is best for your healing process.