Hospice and respite care adds shine to the golden years

There were a lot of women's voices at our place when I was trying to get some last-minute shut-eye.

The reason was Avera Sacred Heart Hospital's hospice and respite care program bringing nurses, aides and retired volunteer nurses altogether to help Phyllis and me in our dilemma. 

I thought that hospice was the end of the road program – but I was wrong. Instead, it is to make the golden years better for all of us.

On account of the deterioration of my Parkinson's "look alike" disease, they bathe me, dress me and get me ready for the rest of the day in a wheelchair.  It's come to that already!

Phyllis, who is learning the nurse's trade, gets the additional advantage of  the respite part of the program. (She spent a couple of days in Sioux Falls with a girlfriend while I was in respite care in the hospital.)

As the primary care giver, she can do errands and other chores while the other gals are here to take over. However, she does everything else when they're not here on the weekends and evenings.

The nurses check my temperature, blood pressure, my heart beat, and gave me my flu shot. They draw blood to check my Coumadin level (that's a blood thinner) which has to be done once a month.

The volunteers read to me because in addition to having Parkinson's disease, I've got something called convergence insufficiency which causes my eyes to NOT focus properly up close. But I can still dictate my column. 

Thank goodness for nurses, aides and volunteers because without them there would be no hospice or respite program to free up Phyllis to give her some time off!

© 2009 Robert F. Karolevitz

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