Welcome to House of Light, a blog produced and managed by the staff of Casa de la Luz Hospice. Casa de la Luz ("house of light" in Spanish) is a locally owned and operated hospice, serving the city and surrounding communities of Tucson, Arizona. Through this blog, we hope to offer education, information, and support about caregiving and hospice care to terminally ill patients and their loved ones. For more information, visit the contact us page.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Our Blog Has Moved!

Please visit our blog at its new home, http://casahospice.com/news/, and make sure to reset your bookmarks.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Benefits of Hospice Care

Most individuals are a little fearful of hospice services. They fear dying, or of giving up on life. Here are some thoughts from hospice workers about how individuals can benefit from hospice care.

"I am in awe of the unique and compassionate care that hospice brings to families facing the end of life." -Carol Clark, Director of Volunteers

"By focusing first on what's most important to our patients, we can give them the opportunity to live their life while on hospice." -Lisa Daniels, Social Worker

"Working with the hospice team, we manage patients' complex medical issues, while also bringing compassion in order to meet each family's unique emotional needs." -Pam Aronson, RN

"It's all about the patients. We allow this person to be a human being and respect them where they are, and respect the families' differences and their grief." -Patsy Ticknor, Chaplain

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Wednesday Image: The Mountain View

Gates Pass
Image taken by Carrie Bui

Hospice care teaches us not only how to approach death with dignity, but also how to appreciate life. The Wednesday Image is a weekly series of images that represent what we love and appreciate most about life in Tucson.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tips for Managing Stress

Being someone's primary caregiver can mean putting a lot of additional stress on your life. Family caregivers are shown to have increased risk for depression and other physical health issues. Look for ways to manage your stress level so you can remain healthy and be the best caregiver you can be. Here are a few online resources with helpful stress management suggestions.

1. The American Psychological Association Stress Tip Sheet doesn't provide you with ideas for how to manage stress, but it does state a couple obvious tips that can be overlooked. Before you can fight your stress, you need to know your stressors and stress signals. Knowing these in advance gives you a little preemptive strike before you become overwhelmed.

2. The American Heart Association has a wonderful list of healthy habits to help fight stress. Maybe you can't fit all of them into your day, but applying just one or two could be just what you need to make the day a little easier. Simple ones to incorporate include numbers 3 and 4--accept what you cannot change and remember to laugh. Add more laughter into your day by hanging funny comic strips on the fridge or a funny Internet meme to your bathroom mirror.

3. The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine shares some benefits of eliciting your body's relaxation response. The relaxation response counterbalances your internal stress response. "The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress..." (Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine). They offer two main steps for the relaxation response and some additional suggestions.

Compiled by Carrie Bui, Communications Specialist

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Five Links

The Friday Five is our weekly roundup of links to smart articles and helpful resources across the Web.

1. CNN shared an excellent opinion piece from Joan Teno about giving patients their end-of-life options. As an hospice organization, we're continually asking ourselves about the points Teno makes in this piece. How can we give patients and their loved ones our full support when the patient dies within three days of the hospice referral? How do we change the focus from quantity of life to quality of life? The answers are complex and the problems won't be solved tomorrow, but we do hope we can continue to educate individuals about end-of-life options and continue to have a discussion about end-of-life care.

2. Recently some projects have popped up centering around how to encourage individuals to engage in discussions about end-of-life wishes. Here's another one that looks interesting: Death Over Dinner. They're still developing the site, but the idea sounds interesting and what's up is very visually appealing. We think this will be worth keeping an eye on.

3. What would you want written about you in your obituary? This obituary about Harry Stamps went viral due to its quirky tone. Death is sad; saying goodbye to the ones we love is sad. However, this daughter didn't let her dad's death change how people would remember her father.

4. Are you using Pinterest yet? The fast-growing network offers a visual and virtual bulletin board for almost everything, including tips for caregivers. We're impressed by The Caregiver's Survival Network's collection of boards and pins, with great suggestions for books for caregivers, a toolbox, inspirational quotes and images, and more.

5. Do you provide care to a loved one with Alzheimer's? Use this Caregiver Guide from the National Institute on Aging to help you with your caregiving duties.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Wednesday Image: The Formation of History

Colossal Cave
Image taken by Carrie Bui

Hospice care teaches us not only how to approach death with dignity, but also how to appreciate life. The Wednesday Image is a weekly series of images that represent what we love and appreciate most about life in Tucson.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hospice Care FAQ

Who are the members of the hospice care team?

The hospice philosophy centers around the idea of whole patient care, provided by a team of professionals. The hospice care team includes a physician to oversee the team's care plan and an RN case manager to provide medical direction and care. A social worker and chaplain are also on the team to offer counseling as well as practical and spiritual guidance. The home health aide provides personal care assistance, such as bathing and grooming, and patients can also enjoy visits from a hospice volunteer for additional companionship. The family caregiver and other loved ones also benefit from the team, through education, emotional support, and some relief from caregiving duties. After the patient's death, bereavement support is also provided to the family and other loved ones as needed.

Is there any relief for the family caregiver of a hospice patient?

If the primary caregiver for a hospice patient is a family member or other loved one, respite care is available through the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Respite care offers the family caregiver a break from the daily responsibilities of caregiving. To give the caregiver relief, respite care may be provided in a Medicare-approved facility. This includes a freestanding hospice facility, a nursing home, or other long-term care facility. Respite care is covered by Medicare for up to five days at a time.

Why would a patient stop receiving hospice care?

A hospice patient has the right to stop receiving hospice care at any time, for any reason. If the patient chooses to stop hospice care, health care benefits from the standard or Medicare Advantage plan continue. On occasion, a terminally ill patient's health improves or the patient's illness goes into remission while receiving hospice care. A patient's condition may become stable to the point that the hospice team and physician(s) believe the patient cannot be certified as terminally ill (having a life expectancy of six months or less), and therefore, is no longer eligible for the Medicare Hospice Benefit. At any point in time, a patient can return to hospice care, so long as the eligibility criteria are met and certification by physician(s) and hospice team are received.

For information about hospice services in Tucson, Arizona, contact Casa de la Luz Hospice at (520) 544-9890 or visit www.casahospice.com.