“There’s an app for that.”

We hear this phrase, sometime in jest, and sometimes when a friend or relative really does know about an app for a mobile device that will simplify some part of life or offer a service.

Hospice care is far from an app. It is a human touch, a listening ear, and a kind voice when a loved one is nearing the end of life. In Chadron, a dedicated network of professionals and volunteers provide these services and much more.

Until the time arrives, you may not even know Home Health and Hospice exists or may have a misconception that it is a quick sequence of events in the final hours or days in life.

It is so much more.

When my elderly friend, Goldie, began hospice I was told about a man who received hospice care for several years, and when he had improved so much he was released from the program. Of course, that was an unusual circumstance but I believe the story was shared with me to illustrate the benefits of hospice.

When Goldie’s hospice visitors spent time conversing with her about plants, pets, church, her family or other interesting topics, she felt valued. Volunteers may invite the patient to share experiences from his or her life, or read a story aloud. Maybe they will leave a flower.

A medical review helped determine which medications and dosages were the most appropriate and which could be discontinued.

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A professional hand or foot massage can ease stress and help the patient relax. This service is even extended to caretakers. Equal to the amazing care hospice offers, is the fact that all information and services are free.

Spiritual discussions and/or prayers with the Hospice Chaplain can bring comfort and peace to minds wrestling with cares or concerns related to aging and end of life. The chaplain is also available to discuss funeral or memorial service plans.

The many dimensions of hospice wrap around the patient and family, providing resources in a supportive manner. They are like an army of angels. The hospice staff were always available to answer my questions, provide resources and help make Goldie comfortable.

From tangible mementos like a glass Christmas ornament that hangs in my office window with sunlight reflecting through Goldie’s image, to support group meetings, regular newsletters, comforting poetry, tips for coping with grief and an annual ceremony to honor deceased love ones, hospice envelopes survivors like me with love.

Unlike the unseen programmers who design helpful apps for mobile devices, hospice staff and volunteers in Chadron are helpful people you can sit and talk with. Everything the hospice staff and volunteers do is intended to soften the harsh edges of trying time and honor the life and wishes of the hospice patient.

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