The message was simple, but powerful. “Thank you” are the words our supporters heard when they picked up the phone on Thursday, January 25 during the JourneyCare Foundation’s annual Thank-a-Thon. Volunteers from throughout our agency – the Foundation, Board members, leadership and volunteers – spent the day calling our nearly 7,000 generous donors from the WTTW studios in Chicago to express our gratitude for all they make possible.
Last December I had the pleasure of visiting a retired artist and teacher. His advanced prostate cancer left him with pain throughout his body, and his bladder spasms and infections had helped to slowly cease his social life. He was referred to music therapy services to elevate his mood and lessen social isolation, to promote reminiscence, story-sharing, and life review, and to refocus him away from feelings of pain and discomfort. As with all clients who I see for music therapy, I have the wonderful challenge of finding how music interventions can assist in easing identified symptoms. Knowing that the brain can only take in so much information at once, using Brian’s* preferred music held his attention and engaged him in enjoyable and meaningful moments, pulling his focus away from his pain. The perception of his pain and discomfort lessened as we sang together and talked about the music he loved throughout his life.
Looking to start 2018 off right? Become a JourneyCare volunteer!
Did you know Medicare requires that 5% of all patient care hours be provided by volunteers? JourneyCare is seeking volunteers to support patients, families, and staff so that, together, we can enrich lives through expert and compassionate care. Volunteers are an essential part of our team’s success!
‘Tis the season of comfort and joy. How is that possible working with Jewish patients in hospice? That’s not as much of a challenge as might one think. As a Jewish Care Service Ambassador, I have the wonderful opportunity to visit with our Jewish hospice patients and provide Jewish support and companionship.
I first met Robin, a 53-year-old ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) patient, when JourneyCare began caring for her about two years ago. I was welcomed in Robin’s home to make weekly visits. I instantly hit it off with Robin and always look forward to my weekly visits with her.
Pelayia Limbos was an extraordinary artist. She was also my best friend, as well as my mother. Her paintings and photography reflect the many facets of her "core being." She was brilliant, pioneering, solid, modest, gentle, soft spoken, subtle, complex, honest and to put it simply – exceptional.
Her style was definitely her own. She was an individual, and she was completely authentic. I found it hard to imagine, however it’s true, that my mom did not believe the masses liked or appreciated her artwork! When I reminded her that someone had commented on the absence of a newsletter issue, or that a friend had just requested to be on her newsletter list (or when the deadline was missed, due to illness or life ... or that people were inquiring/still awaiting its arrival) … or when I tried to remind her that people purchased her paintings from her original art show many years ago ... or when I reminded her, “that it is always an honor... whenever people choose to hang an artist’s work in their home”... she consistently, modestly replied, “Oh, they are just being kind.”
I like to talk. I talk a lot. Many of my coworkers know this already. Sometimes I talk because I have something to say. Sometimes I talk to fill space and silence.
I like to listen. I listen a lot. I love to listen to the stories and the memories I am privileged to hear from patients, families, facility staff, caregivers, and my coworkers. Hopefully my coworkers would tell you I listen too. Hopefully.
What happens when there isn’t much to say? What happens when words fail us or simply cannot adequately express what is happening or what someone is feeling? And, if no one’s saying anything, what is there to listen to? This is a time for presence.
During this Pastoral Care Week, I would like to celebrate the chaplains at JourneyCare and around the world for all the care that you provide to people and families in the various ways you serve. As I reflect on my own pastoral care journey, I am appreciative of the profession I feel called to do.
What do I love about hospice care? I love that it is not specifically focused on death, but on the life of the patient. As a chaplain, this has afforded me the opportunity to hear each patient's life journey. It is in this sharing that I have gained the opportunity to celebrate patients’ lives in the present. Listening to the patients and their families allows their life experiences to be honored. It also has allowed me the opportunity to hear how their lives connect the past, present and their desires in their final months and days. These stories have really influenced my calling as a chaplain.
Mary and her husband Bob are, it seems, glued at the hip, two bodies with one soul. They remind me of my parents who are also in their early nineties, failing in health after living fulfilled, long and good lives, coming from similar backgrounds, with A LOT of kids (eight), a Catholic upbringing and of course, hoping to live forever.
As her massage therapist, I visit Mary, who has congestive heart failure and dementia. Mary has been declining fast and losing her hearing, so I often place my iPhone music right down next to her so she can feel the vibrations. She always smiles. I tell her at each visit that she looks just like the gorgeous Hollywood diva Lana Turner, and she smiles again.
Bill came to JourneyCare several months ago and was initially very hesitant to accept our hospice team into his life and his home. The reason for this was that Bill’s wife had died two years before while on hospice care, but she only lived for a few hours after being admitted. In addition, Bill is a very private and proud man and later said he sometimes is embarrassed by his symptoms. After the first few weeks of routine visits, friendly and caring encouragement, and his care team responding to his needs and wishes, Bill began to accept the team into his life.