Archive for July 2017

The Meaning of Comfort Care

Posted on Aug 28, 2017

Comfort Care

When a patient is facing a terminal illness and curative treatments are no longer working, it’s common for doctors to change the goal of medical care from curing the illness to making the patient as comfortable as possible. This philosophy of care is sometimes called comfort care.

Comfort care also referred to as palliative care, is provided by a hospice care team by focusing on relieving the effects of symptoms. The members of a hospice team will have experience in wound care, medication management, pain management, and other end-of-life issues. To provide more comfort for the patient, comfort care can be provided at home, the hospital, an assisted living center, or where ever the patient lives.

Because not all pain is physical, comfort care also incorporates a spiritual and mental health aspect. A bereavement consoler or chaplain will be part of the care team to help with any non-physical symptoms that may come up. These services are also available to the family of the loved one.

It’s important to note that shifting from curative to comfort care doesn’t mean all life-saving treatments will be automatically stopped. In many cases, a curative treatment will also provide symptom relief and comfort to the patient, so these treatments may continue when comfort care starts.

Making this switch can be a tough decision for families because they feel as if they are giving up on their loved one. However, doctors won’t make this recommendation until all curative treatment options are exhausted, and they feel it’s in the best interest of the patient. Switching to comfort care isn’t giving up, it’s trying to provide the best level of care for the patient as possible.

If you or a loved one are in need of hospice care, call Cura-HPC. One of our transition coordinators will more than happy to talk with you about your options. 

What To Do When “No Funeral” is Requested

Posted on Aug 21, 2017

While most deaths are followed by a funeral or memorial service, it’s not entirely uncommon for the deceased to decline a funeral in their will. A funeral serves two purposes – to honor the dead and get closure. So, when the deceased does not want a funeral, families are left wondering how to get the end result of a funeral without actually having a funeral. It’s hard to replace the familiarity of a funeral, but there are four ways you can still honor the dead and get some closure.


Spend some time collecting details of your loved one’s life, and write a detailed and loving obituary. This process can be incredibly therapeutic, and seeing your loved one’s picture and story in print can give you closure. You can also rest well knowing you honored their memory well by telling their story and letting others enjoy it.

Carry on Their Hobbies and Projects

If they were passionate about keeping the lawn in pristine condition or tending to the rose bushes, keep these traditions alive. It’s a great way to honor your loved one long after they're gone, and it gives you a tangible way to remember them. Whenever you’re busy working on their project or enjoying their hobby, you can think back to all the good memories of them doing the same.

Donate to a Charity

Contact your loved one’s friends and the rest of the family to take up a donation for your loved one’s favorite charity and make the donation in their name. This allows you to do something they would have really appreciated.

Take a Trip

Find out where their favorite place in the world is and take a family trip there. It could be somewhere they went every year, where a major life event happened, or just their favorite trip they ever took. Once you're there, try to take a walk and reflect on their life. Having this connection will help you hold on the memories while still helping you move on.

Funerals aren’t the only way to get closure, as long as you honor their memory and abide by their last wishes, there’s a lot of different ways to write this chapter of life.  

What Happens to Pets When Owners Die?

Posted on Aug 14, 2017

According to the Humane Society, as many as 500,000 pets end up in a shelter every year because their owners die. While we typically expect to outlive our pets, it doesn’t always happen that way. If you or a loved one is advanced in years and a pet owner, there needs to be a plan in place for the four-legged friend. To make sure pets are taken care of, there are a few options.

Last Will and Testament

Including the pet’s name in the will is a good start, but it’s best to actually name a caregiver to be sure. Pets are treated like any other piece of property when we die, and will be included in any asset division. However, since pets hold more value than a TV, designating someone in the will who is willing to care for the pet is a best practice.

Pet Trust

Setting up a free-standing traditional pet trust will allow pet owners to specify care standards and provide money for the pets. This legal document can be in effect for up to 21 years or until the pet dies. This method is a bit more complicated and will require the help of an attorney.

Pet Protection Agreement

If you know who will be taking care of the pet after you pass, you can create a pet protection agreement. This will clearly name the new guardian, outline care instructions, provide money for care, and allow for a smooth transition. Without something like this in place, it can take months for a judge to rule on where the pet will end up.

Although pets feel like part of the family, they are legally treated as property and need to be accounted for in your final wishes. No matter what method you use, it’s important to make sure your pet will be taken care of.

Traveling with Alzheimer’s

Posted on Jul 18, 2017

Traveling with Alzheimer’s

Summer is one of the busiest travel times of the year. With summer vacations hitting full stride, families are embarking on road trips and flying to all four corners of the map. When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, families often feel they need to cancel their upcoming trips. While this might be needed if the disease has progressed far enough, it is possible to travel with a family member who has Alzheimer’s if you take the appropriate precautions.

Use as Many Routines as Possible

Traveling any considerable distance will necessitate breaking a few routines, but try to stick to routine when you can. Change can be strenuous for Alzheimer’s patients, so it might be best to travel to places they’ve been to before. Keep meals at the same time they're used to eating, and pick foods you know they enjoy.

Rest is Important

Vacationing can end up being surprisingly stressful when you try to cram in so many experiences in such a short time. This fast pace can really take its toll on Alzheimer’s patients, so be sure to budget for naps and plenty of rest.

Plan Your Packing

Medications should be the first item on your packing checklist. Plan enough medication to last the entire trip and bring enough for a few extra days just in case. You’ll also want to pack some snacks, and maybe a few puzzle books to keep them entertained for the drive or flight.  

Be Flexible

You never really know what might come up when traveling with a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Give them plenty of attention, and frequently ask how they’re doing. If you’re staying with family or friends, let everyone know about the condition and how they can help.

It’s always best to talk with your loved one’s doctor before taking a trip. Let the doctor know where you’re going and what you’re doing, and ask if they think your loved one is able to travel. 

What is a Hospice Medical Director?

Posted on Jul 11, 2017

Hospice Medical Director

One of the many benefits of hospice care is the interdisciplinary team of medical professionals who will care for the patient. This team is made up of volunteers, chaplains, social workers, aides, nurses, and medical directors. For this week’s blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at the role of the medical director.

Given the unique nature of the hospice industry, a medical director has slightly different duties and responsibilities than a general practice doctor. To fully understand how hospice works, it’s important to understand what exactly medical directors do.

The main focus of the medical director is to construct and administer the end-of-life care plan for each patient. This means the medical director will meet with each patient, assess their needs, and develop a care plan that meets the needs of each patient. They are then responsible for communicating this plan to the rest of the hospice team and any other caregivers that may be assisting in the care of the patient.

As the needs of the patient change, the medical director will adjust the plan accordingly and inform everyone of the changes. They are also the main resource for the rest of the team and the family in the event a question arises about the care plan or condition of the patient.

Medical directors spend a surprising amount of time talking with families and explaining what’s happening with the patient. This is one of the most important roles medical directors have. It’s imperative families fully understand the treatment plan and can make informed decisions.

On a similar note, medical directors are also tasked with carrying out the patient’s final wishes. If the patient has any advanced directives, like a DNR, it’s the medical director’s job to make sure everyone is aware of these wishes and does not deny them.

Lastly, the medical director is in charge of ensuring all safety and health standards are being met. It’s their job to use unbiased data to ensure the care provided is of the highest level and to check for any areas that need improvement. 

Talking Terminal Illness with Children

Posted on Jul 12, 2017

Having to tell a child you’re terminally ill isn’t something that’s typically covered in the parenting handbook. It’s hard for children to learn their parents are dying at any age, but as a young child, it can be devastating. This will be a difficult conversation to have no matter how you go about it, but there are a few things to keep in mind that can make it a little easier.

Be the One to Tell Them- This isn’t something anyone looks forward to doing, but don’t put it off so long that they overhear the news from someone else. It’s important they hear this from you in a setting that allows you to answer whatever questions they may have.

Let Them Help- As you’re going through the various treatments and procedures, try to include them in your care. Let them get you a glass of water or a pair of slippers when you need it. Finding age-appropriate jobs for them to do will help them feel involved.

Be Clear- When you break the news, it’s okay to be direct with your child and let them know the name of the disease and what the expected side effects are. This will help prepare them for the coming months and gives them more clarity.

Create a Support System- Your child will need a support system of people who they can talk to about what they’re feeling. Let their friends, teachers, and other family members know what’s happening so they can be there to offer care and support.

Keep Their Schedule- This news will come as a huge shock to them, and one way to help them cope is to maintain their schedule as much as possible. Although you might not be able to take them to all their activities, ask friends and family if they can help take care of chauffeuring them around.

Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

Posted on Jul 05, 2017

With the 4th of July now behind us, we’re well into the summer months that are sure to be sweltering. Now that the heat is on, we need to pay close attention to the senior community as they are very susceptible to the effects of heat. If you have a loved one in their senior years, here are four tips you can follow to keep them safe in the summer.

Stay Hydrated

As we age, our sense of thirst is often diminished. This means seniors can easily forget to drink enough water, and by the time they remember to drink some water they can already be dangerously dehydrated. This goes double for seniors with dementia. To ensure proper hydration, make sure caregivers are regularly providing water and monitoring hydration levels.

Stay Connected

If your loved one lives alone, without visits from caregivers, it’s best to give them a call at least once a day. See how they’re doing and ask how much water they’ve had to drink. You can rest assured they’ll appreciate the daily communication and it’s a great way for you to check up on them to see if they need anything.

Stay Cool

The summer heat can take a toll on seniors, but keeping them cooped up in their homes all day can also have serious negative health effects. It’s important for seniors to maintain an active social life during the summer, but proper planning is needed. Avoid running outdoor errands during the hottest parts of the day and schedule trips to air conditioned locations throughout the day.

Stay Aware

If all else fails, you need to be aware of the signs of heat stroke. Not sweating in hot settings, confusion, nausea, headaches, fatigue, fever, and rapid pulse are all signs your loved one might be experiencing a heat stroke. If this happens, seek immediate medical attention.