The Role of a Hospice Chaplain

Posted on Nov 21, 2019

hospice chaplain

We are all multifaceted beings with different needs. Attending physicians and caretakers tend to our physical health. Social workers can tend to our mental and emotional health. These are both essential members of a hospice care team. Just as these experienced professionals handle their respective specialties, so too does a hospice chaplain tend to the spiritual and many emotional needs of those receiving hospice care.

Navigating a Spiritual Journey

Towards the end of life, one's spiritual health is a crucial facet of their overall wellbeing. For some, the process of dying can be a confusing part of life that provokes a good deal of anxiety, depression, and even anger. Just as they have in life, many will look to spiritual practices, concepts, and specialists to help quell turbulent emotions and prepare them for death. Hospice chaplains help these patients to navigate their spiritual journey.

Who are Hospice Chaplains?

A hospice chaplain is typically a spiritual cleric of sorts employed by the hospice organization. This person is highly trained and experienced in helping those in hospice care and their families to achieve spiritual peace throughout the dying process. They can provide this peace and comfort by helping to answer questions, providing helpful spiritual wisdom to ease the mind and spirit of the patient by listening. Other times, a hospice chaplain best serves just by being silently present.

Hospice chaplains may be of a specific religious denomination, though most will have an interfaith background to assist patients of varying religious paths. All hospice chaplains are specially trained and experienced in unique challenges and concerns of the dying. Some find they may even be of more comfort to them than their regular chosen clerics.

Who Receives the Care of Hospice Chaplains?

Any hospice patient can request the consultation of a hospice chaplain. Some patients will already have a closer relationship with a non-hospice chaplain, such as a family priest, rabbi, minister, or imam — and may opt to visit with them instead. Other patients may not want any form of spiritual guide, instead opting for the spiritual care of friends and family. Regardless of a patient's religious affiliation or beliefs, hospice chaplains of any background will respect their faith and provide any support within their abilities.

Hospice Chaplains Provide Companionship

There are, unfortunately, some in hospice care with very few or no companions to accompany them on their departure. For these individuals, hospice chaplains fill in the crucial role of companion towards the end of life. Chaplains may also play an essential part in filling in any gap between the patient and the care of hospice caretakers and doctors — ensuring that they leave this world accompanied by a loving and compassionate friend.

How Hospice Chaplains Help Families

The dying process can be emotionally and spiritually difficult for close family and friends. Hospice chaplains also assist those close to hospice patients before, during, and even after the death of a loved one. When needed, family members or companions can consult hospice chaplains long after the death of their loved one to assist them while grieving. For most families, their loved one’s hospice chaplain has a precious place in their hearts for the rest of their lives. 

Meet Our Chaplains

If you or a loved one have any questions about the role of a hospice chaplain, you're welcome to reach out to us. If you're looking for an experienced and compassionate hospice care organization based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we'd love to introduce you to our experienced hospice chaplains.

Reach out to Cura-HPC Hospice & Palliative Care Today

Seeking Help With Grief

Posted on Nov 13, 2019

help with grief hug

There are few instances in life more emotionally painful than losing a loved one. Whether they were a family member or a close friend, the death of a cherished person can leave one feeling lost, alone, sad, angry, or even bewildered. Your emotions may be the result of missing the person or upset that they are no longer living. Caretakers may feel especially confounded due to a void — a lack responsibility —  an aimlessness left by the duties that once consumed their energy. Feeling like you’re floating helplessly adrift, sad, or mad — these are normal emotions. Fortunately, there are many ways to help remedy these feelings. 

Don’t Ignore Grief

Because many are ill-equipped to manage feelings associated with grief after the death of a loved one, they feel that merely ignoring these emotions will make them disappear. This attitude is a tremendous mistake — one that may result in all manner of emotional, psychological, and even physical maladies down the road. It is essential to work through feelings of grief. Fortunately, there is a wide selection of grief management techniques and services from which to choose. 

Little Help From My Friends

One of the most potent forms of support can come from mutual family members and friends of the deceased. Not only are these individuals also grieving a loss, but they’re grieving the loss of the same individual. This mutual loss means a greater alignment of timing, feelings, and reference. The idea of sharing stories about this person can seem potentially pain-inducing at first, but you’ll be surprised how comforting these stories can be — as though this person’s essence has come back for a visit. A series of laughs, tears, and even new stories about this person will not only help to ease your grief but will bind you even closer to the fellow mourners of this loved one. 

Grief Counseling

Grief can be a traumatic event in your life. To better manage this pain, to work through your emotions, and begin to live your life again, there’s absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. Regular sessions with a trained therapist is a great way to attain personalized help and work through problems in a deeper, more profound way. Other forms of grief counseling can be via a support group. Support groups are organized through spiritual organizations, community centers, healthcare systems, or even hospice institutions. Some support groups are specialized for those who have lost parents, siblings, spouses, or even children. These shared experiences intensify the bonds among support group members — some of which go on to be lifelong friends. 

Sick With Grief

We all know that grief can leave you breathless, leave a pit in your stomach, or sap you of energy. Though some of these symptoms are purely emotional, severe grief and depression can result in physical sickness. The stress of a significant loss can reduce your appetite, cause you to crave the wrong kinds of foods, incumber sleep, or make you less likely to exercise. Any of these physical conditions can weaken your immune system and leave you more susceptible to viruses or bacterial infections. Yes, overcoming your grief is also a way to maintain your physical wellbeing. 

Hospice: Not Just for the Dying

Did you know that hospice care is more than a service for the dying, but also offer grief counseling services for the living as well? At Cura-HPC, our work isn’t through with the death of a loved one. Our Bereavement Care services extend for a full year past the death of a loved one. That means a person to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, and the hope of a brighter day. 

Learn More About Cura-HPC Today.

Difficult Decisions Associated with End-Of-Life Dementia

Posted on Sep 05, 2019

It can be easy to forget the terminal nature of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease because the patients can sometimes live for many years with such conditions. Caregivers should remember that these will ultimately result in death and that they should plan accordingly.

Difficult Choices

As dementia progresses, the patient will exhibit lowered cognitive ability, a significantly impaired memory, and the inability to make sense of relatively simple concepts. These impairments of the mind can make the patient’s ability to communicate their desires and express physical discomfort. It can be challenging to determine, for instance, if a loved one with dementia is refusing to eat due to their mental confusion or because of the naturally decreased appetite associated with the dying process. Likewise, it can be easy to confuse an expression of physical discomfort with aggression stemming from confusion.

Providing spiritual and emotional comfort for those with dementia can pose a challenging feat. Will a loved one understand how you feel about them? Will family members have their goodbyes understood by a grandparent with advanced Alzheimer’s disease? Will discussing precious memories provide comfort or further confusion and frustration? During these times, when family members and friends don’t know how to give support to a dying loved one with dementia, skilled palliative care and hospice professionals can be an immensely helpful bridge to patient comfort.

Providing Comfort Via Sensory Stimulation

One approach to providing comfort to a loved one with dementia is through more universal comfort zones — primarily soothing sensory inputs. Enjoyable music and sounds associated with nature can have a dramatically positive effect on the mood of these patients. Gentle massaging of the hands and feet can help to relax those experiencing discomfort and confusion. These sensory techniques are some of the most beneficial modes of providing comfort to those with dementia.

Determining Proper Ongoing Care

When nearing the end of life for an Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s patient, it is crucial to decide which treatment is going to provide the best possible quality of life. Some medications can delay symptoms for a while. Other drugs can limit some unfavorable behavioral problems. While this is the case, some caregivers may not feel comfortable administering medications intended for later-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Other concerns may be whether or not the drugs will, in fact, improve their quality of life or if they come with adverse side effects. When making treatment decisions, the positive and negative outcomes should be weighed to make the best decision possible. Ultimately, a caregiver may need to make the appropriate treatment decisions based on the ongoing condition of the patient — sometimes weighing extending life against increasing the quality of the time they have left.

For help navigating end-of-life care for loved ones with dementia, Cura HPC is here for you. We invite you to learn more about the experienced palliative and hospice care specialists from Cura HPC today.  

The Value of Practical Tasks for The Dying

Posted on Sep 03, 2019

When a loved one is going through the dying process, many of us tend to try to supply support in the most significant areas. Oddly enough, the dying may experience more stress about the coordination of everyday activities in their absence. Frequently, this is where you can provide the most assistance. 

Practical Jobs Can Make a Big Impact

As a loved one begins the dying the process, you’d imagine various sources of stress. Putting aside the existential, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual issues that the dying may experience, managing day-to-day activities may be the source of the most uncertainty. Knowing that everything will be appropriately managed in their absence may be one of the most significant causes of relief that they may experience during the dying process. This is where you, a friend or family member of someone in the dying process, can offer immense support. 

Managing the Handling of Affairs

Among the questions the dying have, some of the most profound are the most basic. “Who is going to water my plants?” “Who is going to take care of my husband?” “Who is going to feed my dog?” “Who will pick up the children from karate?” “Who is going to make dinner for my family?” Though you’re likely not the medical professional making significant decisions about your loved one’s hospice or palliative treatment, where you can have a significant positive impact is by managing the day-to-day tasks that the dying person was once responsible for and where now worry. 

Accept Help Where Offered

If you are the primary caretaker of someone going through the dying process, do not feel the need to take on managing the physical and emotional needs of your loved ones in addition to all of the day-to-day activities. Other family members, friends, and community members will likely lend their services. While you may feel that their help will inconvenience them, realize that by allowing them to shoulder some of the day-to-day responsibilities, you are putting their minds at ease about your present state. Just as you may worry about all of the tasks that need to get done, they too worry about your ability to complete these tasks while also providing the emotional support where it is needed. By letting them help, you’re not only helping yourself, but you’re also helping them. 

Let the Professionals Help

When a loved one is going through the dying process, it’s normal to feel the need to do everything you can to ease their discomfort. While the help of family and friends is encouraged, realize your limitations. Understanding that you will also need help as well through this process. There’s no shame in embracing the help of experienced professionals during this time. 

For help in any matters relating to hospice and palliative care, look no further than Cura HPC. Learn more about Cura HPC today.

Types of Physical Discomfort Among the Dying

Posted on Sep 03, 2019

The dying process can be difficult and confusing not only for the one dying but for loved ones as well. As a loved one, you may not know what you need to be doing in order to make the dying process physically easier. Let’s take a look at areas of physical discomfort that can be managed during the dying process.

Managing Pain

As the body begins to shut down, some patients experience certain amounts of pain. Though not every death is a painful one, it’s completely normal to relieve pain through the use of prescribed medications. A palliative care specialist will know which medications to prescribe and their dosages. If the medications prescribed are not providing any relief, it is important to let your palliative care specialist know this for they can adjust the medications and/or dosages. 

Respiratory Issues

During the dying process, it’s not usual for a patient to experience shortness of breath. This difficulty breathing is called dyspnea and can sometimes cause anxiety. Some means of remedying this is shortness of breath include elevating the head, opening windows to increase the flow of fresh air, the use of a humidifier or a fan to move still air in the room. Some doctors may administer morphine or medicines that help to limit the feeling of breathlessness. As death nears, breathing may become very loud and labored. Though this can be quite startling to loved ones, it usually does not upset the patient. 

Digestive Issues

Towards the end of life, digestive problems such as nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, or vomiting are common. Though they mostly stem from the natural process of the body shutting down and energy being rerouted to life-sustaining organs in the body, some can be treated. It is important to speak to a nurse or other medical professional about these in order to ease discomfort. While a dying person may require help to eat if they desire to do so, do not have them eat if they do not want to. There is a certain point where eating may cause great discomfort or nausea, so do not be disturbed if the patient gives up food or drink almost completely.

Skin Issues

Skin can become unusually dry on the face, eyes, and lips before death. Lip balm, moist cloths, and alcohol-free lotions can help to soothe the skin. Offering ice chips and wiping the inside of the mouth with a damp cloth can help relieve dryness in the mouth. Sitting in one position for an extended period of time can cause bedsores, so it is important to change positions from time to time. Harder services such as railings can irritate elbows, hands, and feet, making foam padding a source of comfort. 

Though you may feel helpless to prevent the death of a loved one, helping them remain comfortable throughout the dying process can make all the difference — for the dying person and loved ones alike. 

If you’d like to learn more about palliative care and hospice services in Tulsa, OK, you’re invited to learn more about Cura HPC. 

Learn more and connect with Cura HPC Palliative & Hospice Care Services in Tulsa, OK today.