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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hospice Volunteer Vigil (Video Interview 3:46)



Hospice volunteers are being recruited daily and offering their services. People follow that path for different reasons. For many, it is a unique opportunity to serve patients at critical times in their lives. Hospice volunteering has everything to do with using good common sense and applying knowledge gained through ongoing training. 
When it comes to patients, service is about volunteers being there with them and improving their quality of life. Patients sense and appreciate their presence.

What a particular volunteer provides is important for a patient who doesn’t want to die alone. That is the reason many hospice programs are providing specialized volunteer vigil training. During vigil training, a volunteer is taught how to provide bedside support during the final days and hours of a patient’s life. Assistance for families is included. At some facilities, staff members also volunteer for vigil assignments. Vigils, which are based on a patient’s wishes, can include talking, praying, inspirational reading, playing music, performing rituals, touching and, of course, sharing silence. Reflecting the hospice philosophy, a volunteer vigil helps provide the patient with a more peaceful end-of-life experience.

In this video, Kaitlyn Maire of Central Okanagan Hospice House shares her vigil experience. She says, “I just wanted to be there for somebody to know that person didn’t have to be alone.”




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Should Ghost Bike Memorials Honoring Bikers Struck By Vehicles Be Removed? (Video 1:56)


Impromptu memorials honoring the dead have been around for many generations in America. These memorials often begin with a tragedy involving one or more deaths. For example, a child might be murdered or killed in a car accident. Within a short period of time, stuffed animals, flowers, balloons, cards, photographs, and other memorial displays begin to accumulate at the site where the crime or accident took place. A prayer service may be held there. The shrines and altars resulting from impromptu memorials touch many people in a personal manner and serve as powerful reminders of the deceased and the cause represented.

A ghost bike, usually a junk bike painted white and secured near the scene of a tragedy, is the memorial project of a worldwide movement for commemorating deceased or injured bikers struck down by motor vehicles. Appealing to both personal loss and moral sensibilities, ghost bike memorials have been displayed in a growing number of cities for several years. They are memorials personalized by loved ones and community members as they unfasten earthly connections with the deceased.

But this practice has not continued without controversy. Some people consider ghost bikes to be eyesores that should never be used in this manner. Others say there should be more rules in place regarding bike displays, maintenance, and removal. Concerns about ghost bike removals have been especially disturbing to those who want to commemorate deceased bikers. They say the memorials should also remain to remind drivers of important safety lessons, particularly with all the driving distractions that exist.

This video features various perspectives related to the Kelly Hurlbert ghost bike memorial. What do you think? Should ghost bike memorials be removed?




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Caregiver Pain Medication Management (Hospice Research, Addiction Video 1:24)


Caregivers of loved ones often feel stress in making decisions about pain medication management, especially when patients are in hospice. While hospice team members support them in their efforts, caregivers are aware of their own lack of experience as they go about implementing what they have been advised to do.

A study of hospice caregiver pain management by146 caregivers revealed the following themes:

    1)    Difficulty with administration of pain medication
    2)    Concerns about side effects of medications
    3)    Insecurity with pain assessment
    4)    Frustrations with communication among healthcare team members
    5)    Memories of unrelieved pain
Research information is important for hospice and other healthcare professionals as they support the management of pain, including emotional pain, of patients and caregiving loved ones as a unit of care. This video titled “Will my loved one become addicted to their pain medications?” explains addiction concerns of caregivers managing pain.




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Happiness: Older Adults vs. Adolescents (Research, "Happy" Song Video 2:11)


Lots of negative stereotypes exist about older adults. No doubt, these stereotypes are major reasons many people don't look forward to becoming older adults and don't embrace aging well when they do. But what is the reality? If happiness could be defined as a positive state of emotional well-being, would adolescents be happier than older adults? What do you think?

An emotional well-being study was done involving two national surveys with participants including 1,403 community-dwelling older adults and 1,190 high school students. Emotional well-being was measured using the World Health Organization-Five Well-Being Index. This index includes participants’ ratings ranging from “all the time” to “at no time” for statements such as these:

1)    I have felt cheerful and in good spirits.
2)    I have felt calm and relaxed.
3)    I have felt active and vigorous.
4)    I woke up feeling fresh and rested.
5)    My daily life has been filled with things that interest me.

What were the research results? Older adults scored significantly higher levels of emotional well-being than the high school students. Did this surprise you? Have you already noticed this in your own observations of people or your own personal life? Do you have fewer intense negative emotions and more positive emotions as you age?

Sometimes happy experiences come when we least expect them. This video, which was inspired by Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” song, was shot at Meadowbrook Senior Living in Agoura Hills, California. Staff members and young folks joined in the fun, too!




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Video Games Can Help Older Adults (Research, Video 1:02)


If you think older adults and video games aren’t compatible, think again. Another stereotype bites the dust. Research shows that video games can play important roles in improving older adult quality of life in two ways:

 1) Fall Prevention

An older adult fall can be a devastating experience in terms of pain and rehabilitation. With an increasing population of older adults and decreasing availability of health practitioners and funding, computer technology can serve as a vital intervention.

Exergaming is a term used for video games that are also a form of exercise. They use technology that tracks body movements or reactions. Nineteen exergaming studies to prevent older adult falls indicated decrease in falls, improvements in balance control or gait parameters, decreased fear of falling, and attitudes to exercise in older adult persons living in the community. These effects were seen across the age and sex spectrum of older adults, including those with and without balance impairment.
        
 2) Multitasking Abilities

A study from the University of California in San Francisco reports that playing video games can help middle-aged people and older adults with their multitasking abilities. In the NeuroRacer game, players drove a car on a racetrack while clicking on certain geometric shapes as they appeared on the screen. After playing the game for a month, players were better at performing a second task and had improved short-term memory.  This video gives a more detailed description of how this research was done.





Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Women’s Hospice, Cancer Healthcare Disparities (Research, Video 1:37)



Healthcare disparities are inequalities that exist when members of certain populations do not benefit from the same healthcare status as other groups. These disparities can be related to racial-ethnicity, socioeconomics, gender, age, geography, and more. They are recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, and other reputable major healthcare organizations. Being proactive in efforts to eliminate them is not only a healthcare issue, but a moral one.


Quality of end-of life care depends a lot on timely referral to hospice care. Lack of hospice services often translates into less pain management. A growing body of research indicates that several types of cancer are referred to hospice very late. These late referrals indicate racial-ethnic, sociodemographic, socioeconomic, and age disparities. In a study of patients over 65 with ovarian cancer, a higher proportion of black women, women in the lowest income groups, and women receiving fee for service Medicare were never referred to hospice care. A substantial proportion of older women with ovarian cancer were referred to hospice care only when they were very near death.


The New York Times recently reported research on breast cancer mortality trends in 41 of the largest cities in the United States. Results indicate that the mortality gap between black and white women has increased in the past twenty years. The chance of surviving breast cancer correlates strongly with the color of a woman’s skin. Black women with breast cancer are about 40 percent more likely to die of the disease than white women with breast cancer. Dr. Steve Whitman, director of Sinai Urban Health Institute and the study’s senior author emphasized that this had nothing to do with genetics. He stated further, “It’s undeniable that this is systemic racism,” and that the system is arranged in such a way that it’s allowing white women access to the important gains we’ve made since 1990 in terms of breast health, and black women have not been able to gain access to these advances.”

In this video, Dr. Karen L. Kruper, co-director of City of Hope's breast cancer program, discusses her research in healthcare disparities and quality of life outcomes.




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.