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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Long-Term Care Mardi Gras Party: Join Older Adult Celebration! (Video 1:02)


Older adults in New Orleans and other cities celebrating the world-famous Mardi Gras or Carnival season often have parties and small parades. Many nursing homes and senior communities participate in the fun. This happy occasion makes its annual 2014 debut this year on March 4, Kings' Day, and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before the Christian season of Lent starts. Street parades attracting thousands of local residents and curious tourists occur daily. Parades are held during the day and at night.
Growing up in New Orleans, I loved this magical season. Mardi Gras parades created wonderful memories for me. The excitement of swimming in an ocean of festivity, the buoyancy from living fantastic fantasies thrilled my senses. They connected me with the same wave of wonderment flowing through every child who ever lived on this planet.
I store my New Orleans memories in a marvelous, mental, treasure chest painted with purple, green and gold brush strokes, the official colors of Mardi Gras. All grown up, I still smile when I look inside. No doubt, many older adults will be smiling this coming Mardi Gras and many Mardi Gras seasons to come. The video below features Bethesda Southgate Nursing Home in Missouri.


Upcoming Mardi Gras Dates:

  • February 28, 2017
  • February 13, 2018
  • March 5, 2019
  • February 25, 2020
  • February 16, 2021
  • March 1, 2022
  • February 21, 2023
  • February 13, 2024
  • March 4, 2025
  • February 17, 2026
  • February 9, 2027



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, February 23, 2014

Deathbed Paranormal Communications (Nurse Research, Story)


Deathbed communications refer to paranormal experiences that may occur with people who are dying and people who are with them. Although this phenomenon has only been scientifically researched in recent years, it has been noted in many cultures around the world for centuries. Hospice staff members have often shared paranormal phenomenon near the time of patients’ deaths.

Have you had the experience of witnessing deathbed communications with someone during the month before that person died? How did these communications make you or the dying person feel? Did they make the dying process better? These are the kinds of answers researchers on deathbed communications sought in a study focused on determining the incidence of these communications during the 30 days before death and their impact on the dying process. 

The study included analyses of 60 hospice chart audits and 75 survey responses by hospice nurses in America. Overall, 89% of the hospice nurses reported patients who experienced deathbed communications and a peaceful and calm death. However, only 40.5% reported a peaceful and calm death without deathbed communications. Apparently, deathbed communications do have a positive impact on the dying process, but they are underreported in patient records and underdescribed in textbooks.

The following is a true deathbed experience that my hospice patient shared with me about an unusual trip she said she had taken that day:

(Excerpt from Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes)

“What did you do today?” I asked Rose after feeding her.

“Me? I’ve been spending time with my people. I enjoyed myself a lot.”

“Hey, that’s great. Did your relatives drive in from Chicago?”

“No, I went to heaven. It’s the nicest place, all clean and bright with beautiful places everywhere. I saw my family and plenty of my friends. They all wore long white gowns.”

“Wow! I guess that’s a place you’ll want to visit again.”

“Oh, I’ll definitely be going back. I’m planning to go stay there when I die. I’ll see if I can help you get in, too.”

“Thanks. I would really appreciate that.”

“How old did you tell me I was?”

“You’re ninety-nine, and you’ll be a hundred years old on your next birthday.”

“A hundred years old is too old. I don’t think I want to be that old.”

“There are three other ladies in this nursing home who are older than that. One is a hundred three. We talked to her last week during your wheelchair ride.”

“How much longer will it be before I make a hundred? I don’t know if I want to wait too much longer.”

“It’s only one more month. I remember you said you had spiritual talks with your minister. If you decide to wait, I’ll get you a big balloon that looks like a birthday cake.”

“I guess I could wait. Yes, I think I will wait. That way I can celebrate my hundredth birthday. When I do get to heaven, I can tell everybody I lived to be one hundred.”

And that’s exactly what she did.

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, February 16, 2014

Wheelchair Ride Rewards (Research)



As a hospice volunteer in Detroit nursing homes, I always knew wheelchair rides were a lot more than just moving residents around in mobile chairs. They provided great bonding moments that presented priceless occasions for us to learn interesting facts about our personalities and pasts. Most of all, wheelchair rides gave patients opportunities to extend boundaries beyond their rooms to include other patients, staff, visitors, activities, stimulating sights, sounds and even smells. Nursing home research supports this type of socialization.

The purpose of this research was to examine ways in which nursing home residents experience and enhance their sense of dignity. The two most important mechanisms for enhancement were feelings of being in control of one’s life and being regarded by others as a worthwhile person. Both feelings could be supported through the following:

 1) Finding ways to cope with one's situation
 2) Getting acquainted with and at ease with new living structures at the nursing home 
3) Experiencing physical improvement with or without an electric wheelchair
4) Being socially involved with nursing home staff, other residents and relatives
5) Being among disabled others while experiencing less disrespect from the outer world

This post would not be complete without mention of Nat, one of my favorite wheelchair riders. Nat had a wheelchair-riding contest with himself every time we returned to his room from outdoors. He briefly pushed his wheelchair fast to beat the door buzzer that went off when we entered from the porch. This was a race he always won. He never tired of playing this game or bragging about how fast he was every time he won. People sitting in the lobby began to expect that when we entered, there would be a lot of hoopla over Nat’s beating the buzzer. Laughing with triumph, he enjoyed celebrating his victory and proudly telling everybody I was his wife. This came from a white man who initially expressed reluctance about being assigned to me, a black volunteer. Nat had underestimated the power of wheelchair ride rewards.

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.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hospice Love Story (Video 3:58)


He’s Harvey Mehlhaff, a retired Baptist minister who has been paralyzed from the waist down due to prostate cancer since April, 2010. She’s Carol, his loving wife and devoted caregiver. Together they
celebrate a marriage that has lasted 51 years. He teases her about hugs and kisses, while she blushes with the sweetness of a young bride. They love hospice. But, most of all, they cherish each other and look forward to living each day to the fullest.





Read about who leaves hospice alive. Discharges can occur for several reasons: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leaving-hospice-alive-research-nursing-home-story-parker?trk=mp-reader-card

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.