Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When You Need A Friend

I have been retired from the nursing profession for several years now.  I functioned in the capacity of home health nurse for many of the years I worked.  Having counseled with many family members who were serving as caregivers for my patients, I never really understood how difficult a job it was until I found myself in the position of primary caregiver.

I must say that I could not have done it alone.  I needed a real friend, one who could help me in this difficult time.  One morning after a particularly rough night, I finally decided to call Advantage Hospice.  I was amazed by their immediate and attentive response to my request.

I not only had a "friend" to talk to when things got difficult, but a Nurse, CNA, Answering Service, Chaplain and a Social Worker.  I was even introduced to a pre-med student from Mercer who was to serve as my Volunteer helper.

I can not tell you how much it meant to me to be able to pick up the phone at any hour of the day or night to ask questions, get help with medication dosages, get advice for caring for my friend, or to just talk.  Sometimes you just need someone to talk you through the difficult times you have as caregiver.

Hospice requirements have recently changed, and requirements have been somewhat relaxed.  You used to have to have certification that the patient had a terminal diagnosis that would end their life in six months or less.  This is no longer the case.  There are criteria for acceptance to the Hospice Program however.  You can find these on line.  Don't hesitate to call Hospice if you feel that you meet the criteria for assistance, they are invaluable.

My dear little patient has passed on, but Hospice is still there for me.  They will offer their counseling services for the next year.  I will have a friend (the Chaplain in my case) to talk to when things are tough.  She will be there to walk me through the grieving process.  I won't have to feel like I am "burdening" her as I would if I called other friends.  I won't have to worry about whether or not it is a difficult discussion for her.  This is her job.  But, more than this, I have found that the Hospice employees have found their "calling."  They are kind, considerate, hard-working, generous of spirit and there when things are tough. 

So, if you find you are ever in need of assistance in your position as a caregiver, please take time to find a local Hospice. They will be your "friend" and your confidant, and your nurse and advisor.  Reach out when you need a friend.  You won't be sorry.

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