Most people think hospice care is about dying, but patients often have a lot of living left to do. It’s not all about sadness and loss; there’s a lot of joy and laughter in this work. I’ve shared some great laughs with hospice patients.
I became a hospice volunteer in the Aitkin area 14 years ago. At age 79, I no longer want to do a lot of driving so I just visit patients in the local nursing homes and hospital now.
Before a volunteer starts visiting patients, you go through training that teaches how to talk with the patient and their family members. Often, not saying anything at all, just being present with a patient and perhaps holding her/his hand, is all you need to do.
I’ve learned what a patient often wants the most is for someone to listen. Patients often tell me things they don’t feel comfortable talking to family members about. Everything I learn during my volunteer visits is kept absolutely confidential
One of my best hospice volunteer experiences was caring for a friend and neighbor who said, “Joanie, will you help me die?” And the really wonderful thing about hospice is that sometimes the patients don’t die—they get better.”
To make a gift to hospice programming in our local community visit our Give Now page.
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