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Monday, May 29, 2017

Older Adult Couples Living Apart Together (LAT): (Caregiving Research, Video 7:48)

Can absence really make the heart grow fonder? You’re middle-aged or over, divorced, widowed, never married, and basically content with living in your own space. Someone comes along that you love romantically, and you are confronted with the decision of living with this person in one household or not. What would you do? An increasing number of older adults are choosing to have a living apart together (LAT) relationship.

Many couples want a monogamous relationship without living together for various reasons. These may include financial and property considerations, lifestyle preferences, family issues, and just plain privacy, particularly for those who enjoy the freedom of living alone. Keep in mind that trust is a major factor that must be addressed in a long-term committed relationship under these circumstances.

What about caregiving if serious illness occurs? The reality is that many men want someone to take care of them if they become ill. They are usually more persistent than women about living together in a single household. Women, however, may not want to be caregivers, particularly in their own aging years. In research involving couples living apart together, interviews took place with 25 LAT partners and a comparison group of 17 remarried older adults.

What were the results? About half of the LAT partners said they would exchange caregiving if needed. The other half had ambiguous feelings or intentions to refuse caregiving. For those LAT partners already confronted with illness in their current relationship, all provided care for the partner in need. The minority of LAT partners who would not exchange care reciprocally were more likely to give as opposed to receive care.

This video features several facets of Canadian LAT partnerships of both young and older adult couples. It’s interesting to see how these two age groupings approach and sustain this growing trend of loving and living:


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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Aging Veterans' Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), (Story, Recovery Video 3:22 )

My hospice patient Nat was like many aging men and women who have served our country during various wars. A Viet Nam veteran, he suffered with repressed fear and sadness resulting from his war experiences. We had many conversations about his life during my weekly visits with him. His story is typical of many veterans who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (Excerpt from BecomingDead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes)

“Did you see my flag on the side of the bed?” Nat asked me one day.

I looked again at his small American flag taped to the bed railing and responded, “Yes, I noticed it the first day I came. It’s always there on your bed. I can tell you like it.”

“I fought in a war years ago. Gave the best I could give. I’ve seen and done things you couldn’t imagine. Some of them were horrible, I mean really horrible. Don’t ask me to tell you what they were, because I can’t talk about it. They say time heals all wounds, but it’s a lie. I left Viet Nam, but Viet Nam never left me. I carry it with me everywhere I go.

All these years later, I still have nightmares like you wouldn’t believe. The doctor says it’s post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. I wake up shaking, gasping for breath with tears in my eyes. In my dreams, I’m always running hard trying to escape. Sometimes my enemies are close enough for me to touch. I almost stop breathing to keep them from hearing me. I’m constantly thinking I’m not going to make it. Some nights they kill me before I wake up. My dreams are so raw, so real they turn my soul inside out.

In real life, I came back alive. A lot of people who served, some of them my friends, didn’t come back. That’s why I keep that flag there all the time. It’s out of respect for those who came back in body bags; it’s for those still struggling with physical and mental injuries. It’s the least I can do for them.”

What help is available for veterans with PTSD? In this video a Marine Corp veteran named Warren details the horror of his life living with PTSD and how he recovered by facing his demons. He received help from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Warren encourages all veterans to get the help they deserve after fighting for this country. 


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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Win-Win Hospice Volunteering

By Frances Shani Parker

1) Remember why you serve.

There’s a reason you feel compelled to enhance lives of the terminally ill. Cherish that inspiration. Move forward committed to an amazing and rewarding healthcare adventure.

2) Believe it’s all win-win.


Providing end-of-life service is a privilege, not a calling to be a savior. You and those you support come together in relationships of mutual improvement. Honor your win-win journey.

3) Be present.

By all means, show up. But be present with patients after you arrive. Evaluate appearances, behaviors, surroundings, and interactions with others. Listen with your heart. Even silence speaks. Really try to understand life from their perspectives. Focus on advocacy for improving their quality of living.

4) Try other doors.

Patients will have challenges such as dementia that may not respond to your usual front-door communication. Try other doors and even windows. Obstacles are enrichment opportunities in your partnerships with patients. Touch, music, pictures, stories, and fantasies are a few entry points. Let patients help you navigate your way into their world.

5) Know your piece in the puzzle.

Adherence to rules of protocol and professional ethics should be routine. Be aware of boundaries such as confidentiality regarding yourself, your patients, and their loved ones. Follow guidelines of your hospice organization, and seek help when needed.

6) Untie your knots.

There may be times of doubt, confusion, sadness, and guilt. These are normal knots of the caregiving process. Untie them by seeking support for your total well-being. Maintain proper rest, nutrition, exercise, and balance in your own life. Do your best. Don’t be surprised when you discover reasons to kiss yourself.

7) Spread the word.

Be knowledgeable about hospice and palliative care. Share information so others can benefit from these specialized areas of healthcare. Encourage involvement in hospice and palliative care career and service activities.

8) Pick up a turtle.

If you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, you know somebody helped to put it there. Be on the lookout for turtles aiming for fence posts. Be a role model for other volunteers. Participate in organizations, conferences, workshops, and discussion groups where you can share best practices while learning new ideas.

9) Write death sentences.

Death will come no matter how often you avoid it or wrestle it to the ground. Have your advance directives, finances, and property in legal order. Urge others to do the same. Don’t burden loved ones later with important decisions you can record now. As you unfasten yourself from this life, be satisfied knowing your death sentences will be carried out according to your wishes.

10) Expect rainbow smiles.

Rainbow smiles hug you so tightly you can feel ribs of joy press against your essence. Hospice volunteering provides ongoing experiences for you to positively impact lives. When you do, rainbow smiles will come.

© Frances Shani Parker, author of Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes

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, May 8, 2017

Grandparents, Grandchildren Cancer Support (Research, Video 1:48)


Holding hugs and holding hearts are what grandparents and grandchildren do best. During sickness and health, they can play crucial roles in one another’s lives. A grandchild with cancer greatly impacts a grandparent’s quality of life. In a research study including grandparents of children with and without cancer, grandparents were assessed regarding sleep, medications, and hospitalizations.

The following results were reported:

1) Grandparents of children with cancer reported significantly worse quality of life. They also reported more problems with anxiety, depression, and pain.

2) Grandparents of children with cancer reported taking longer to fall asleep and taking more medications in the last 4 weeks.

3) Hospitalizations across groups were comparable. But grandmothers living in urban locations, and retired/unemployed grandparents experienced reduced quality of life.


Cancer of a grandchild affects a grandparent in significant ways. Given that four or more individuals may be affected per child, and that a grandparent’s well-being can influence the whole family, interventions targeting at-risk grandparents are needed.

Sometimes, the grandparent is the person with cancer who needs support. While many family members and friends may rally around the grandparent, loving attention of a grandchild can also be very helpful. This video shows how Cheryl Gerald's granddaughter stepped up to do her part in helping her grandmother, especially while she went through chemotherapy for breast cancer.


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

Monday, May 1, 2017

Doctors’ Religions, Spirituality, Influence on Patients (Research, Video 2:31)


So much medical focus is placed on doctors, it’s easy to forget that they are people just like everybody else. They come into the world and evolve while embracing various ideas and philosophies that mold them into the people they are at any given time. Religion and spirituality can play important roles in their becoming doctors and in their everyday decisions. Do most doctors believe in God? Do most doctors within a particular specialty tend to believe in agnosticism and have no certainty God exists or not? Are most doctors atheists who don't believe in God? Do doctors pray with patients or try to influence them toward their religions? These are questions with answers that may be of interest to you.

This research study examines the influence of religion and spirituality on doctors’ decisions to pursue medicine, daily medical practice, and their interactions with patients. Emailed anonymous surveys were completed by 2,097 responding doctors whose practicing years ranged from ≤1 to ≥ 30 years. Medical fields represented included primary care, medical specialties, surgical specialties, and psychiatry.

The following results were reported:

1) The majority of doctors believe in God (65.2 %), and 51.2 % reported themselves as religious, 24.8 % spiritual, 12.4 % agnostic, and 11.6 % atheist.

2) Most doctors consider themselves religious or spiritual, but the rates of agnosticism and atheism are higher than the general population.

3) Psychiatrists were more likely to report agnosticism and were the least religious group.

4) Frequent prayer was reported by 44.7 % of doctors, but only 20.7 % reported having prayed with patients.


Although the influence of religion on doctors’ lives and medical practices did not influence the majority of them to incorporate prayer with patients, there are times when doctors and other healthcare workers may try to sway patients’ beliefs to be more in line with their own religious and spiritual beliefs. This video presents a scenario including a patient's charge of religious discrimination by a doctor.




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.