Helping an Aging Family Member Plan for the Future

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Take Control While You Can

The importance of advance planning for aging adults (especially those suffering from chronic illnesses) cannot be overstated. Without the right legal and financial documentation, caregivers and their loved ones could be faced with a host of problems in an emergency. Doctors may refuse to discuss important medical information with a caregiver, a dying elder may not get the end-of-life care they desire, and control over an incapacitated loved one’s bank accounts and property could be given to a complete stranger.

6 Must-Have Legal Documents for Family Caregivers

You can help a loved one plan for their current and future medical and financial needs by working with them to prepare six essential legal documents, described in further detail below:

Important documents for managing medical care

Important documents for managing finances

An elder law attorney can assist with the preparation of these documents; as well as valuable guidance for taking into account your loved one’s Familyindividual situation and preferences when planning for the future.

Don’t Wait for Disaster to Strike

Getting the necessary documents in order before a medical or financial disaster strikes can make an extremely difficult situation just a bit easier to navigate. Knowing that you’re carrying out your loved one’s wishes, even though they may not be able to voice them, can ease the crushing feelings of guilt and doubt than caregivers often experience in these situations.

*An additional note about POA: There can be confusion with regards to the difference between “durable” and “nondurable” powers of attorney. A durable POA is one that endures a person’s incapacitation, meaning that, until a person either passes away, or is able to regain control of their own affair, the POA remains in effect. This is as opposed to a nondurable POA, which becomes null upon a pre-defined contingency—such as a particular date, or in the event of a person’s incapacitation. For additional information on POA, see: Things You Can and Can’t Do With POA.

Provided courtesy of AgingCare.com, the go-to destination for family caregivers. AgingCare.com provides resources and guidance through financial and legal concerns, such as guardianship of elderly parents. This article is one of a series of articles included in the eBook, Family Caring for Family. Download your free copy at www.AgingCare.com/ebook.

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Watch – Hospice Conversations and Policies are Changing

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Terri and John Havens – Spirit Award Recipients

The Havens to Have Channeled Success Into Support

On behalf of its Board of Directors, and Spirit Award Dinner Chairmen, Kay and Paul Mansfield, Houston Hospice is very pleased to announce that Terri and John are the recipients of the 2015

Terri and John Havens

Terri and John Havens

Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award. Terri and John Havens have channeled their success as business owners into support for the community. They each have a passion for growing businesses and are fully dedicated to all of the charities they support.

As the leader of Seismic Exchange, Inc. (SEI), John has grown the business to be the largest 2D and one of the largest 3D seismic data and marketing firms in North America. John has led the charge to vertically integrate the business with the additions of a seismic reproduction company and seismic data processing company. John has also acquired other businesses, including Vista Valley Country Club in California, and is a minority owner of the Houston Astros and Houston Oaks Golf Club.

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Terri and John are the owners of Cal-a-Vie Health Spa and Vista Valley Country Club. Nestled on 200 private acres in a secluded valley in Vista, California, 40 miles north of San Diego, Cal-a-Vie is an exclusive retreat known to many celebrities, and boasts 32 guest villas and a 5:1 staff-to-guest ratio. Terri’s advertising and marketing expertise, along with her natural “Southern Hospitality” and commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle, has helped cultivate Cal-a-Vie’s award-winning wellness and fitness program, which has been voted the number-one “Destination Health Spa in North America” by Travel + Leisure, amongst others.

Making Houston Better

In addition to encouraging health and wellness for their spa guests, the Havens put their heart into causes that are dear to them, as evidenced by their many philanthropic endeavors. Terri and John support numerous organizations that ensure access to healthcare, education, and culture. Terri serves as the Secretary of I Am Waters and is a board member of the Astros Foundation, the Children’s Museum of Houston, and Bayou Bends Gardens and is actively involved with Star of Hope. Terri acts as the Texas Children’s Hospital Ambassador Chairman and is an active supporter of Texas Children’s Hospital Heart Center. She has chaired commendable events such as the Hermann Park Gala and Heroes for Handbags.

Terri and John have each received honors for their philanthropic efforts. John has been inducted into the LSU Hall of Distinction and Terri has been voted a top mom by the Easter Seals’ Great Houston’s “Hats off to Mothers” event. Together, they were voted one of the most outstanding couples in Houston by Inspire Women, were the 2012 Gala honorees and recipients of the Krist Samaritan Spirit Award, and were the 2014 Houston Children’s Charity Gala honorees, among others.

Terri and John have found a perfect balance of success, both professionally and personally, coupled with an active household of three children, Prentiss, 17, Davis, 13, and Mallette, 12. Admitted Francophiles, John and Terri always find time for family, friends, travel, collecting antiques, and restoring historic homes.

The Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award Dinner

Terri and John were recognized at the 17th Annual Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award Dinner Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 6 p.m. at River Oaks Country Club at 1600 River Oaks Blvd., Houston, Texas 77019. Table sponsorships for the dinner help fund medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support provided by non-profit Houston Hospice.

—Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communications Specialist

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The Ugly Car

On My Way Home

After a particularly harrowing Friday in the Volunteer Department, my coworker Ruth decided we should go home early as a reward for making it through the day. I was ready to bolt when Ruth told me she had a little side trip for me to make “on my way home”. The wife of a patient needed a ride, and according to Ruth’s brain, they lived close to me. I gladly accepted the assignment with gleeful thoughts of getting a jump-start on Houston’s Friday afternoon traffic mayhem.

Eager to leave early, I immediately went to the patient care center to meet the patient and his wife. I was a bit shocked when I noticed Mrs. G.’s aqua hair — not be confused with the socially acceptable “blue” tint of my grandmother’s social set. That should have been my first clue about her unique personality. But no, I trusted Ruth and forged ahead not thinking twice that a lady with aqua hair might be rather ‘interesting’. Her frail husband thanked me repeatedly. They were such a cute, sweet little elderly couple, and taking her home was a small price to pay for getting to leave early, or so I thought.

She Gawked at My Car

I slowly pulled my almond gold PT Cruiser with the chrome package out of the garage and stopped in front of Mrs. G. who was waiting in her assigned spot. She gawked at my car, then at me and cruiser_pehesitated before she finally got in. She looked from side to side as she inspected every inch of my car. Then, she shook her head and said, “My friend and I wondered who bought these ugly little cars.”

There are two camps when it comes to PT Cruisers, love or hate, no in between. Mrs. G. was definitely on the hate side. She told me about every two minutes how ugly she thought my car was. She could not understand why Chrysler made such an ugly car. Her husband had a Chrysler and it ran good. Chrysler made nice, dependable, cars but she had no idea what they were thinking when they made these ugly ones. Deriding my car was only interrupted with detailed driving instructions. “Stay in this lane, don’t pass that bus, slow down, turn here, watch that!”

Nice People Drive Ugly Cars

When we finally entered her neighborhood, which was nowhere close to mine, driving instructions and ugly car comments were complimented by a running commentary on the stores where she shopped, where they got their gas, where they bought auto parts for their good looking Chrysler and what streets had potholes. I inched along, dodging every aforementioned, pre-announced pothole. About half way down her lengthy street, Mrs. G. pointed to her house. It was the one on the left where three men stood on the porch eyeing my car. “They’ll never expect me to be in this thing,” she giggled. All three men rose as we approached. Through squinting eyes one of them recognized Mrs. G. and came to open the door for her. Before getting out, Mrs. G. took one last wide-eyed gander around her and announced, “I’ll have to tell my friend that nice people drive these ugly cars!”

As I left Mrs. G. and her three friends, I called Ruth. She did not answer. She had left early, without any side trips.

—Patsy Piner

 

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Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year

WP_20150514_11_58_32_Pro_peIt Wouldn’t Be Monday Without Debbie

Eleven-year volunteer, Debbie Hoelscher, has been named volunteer of the year by Houston Hospice. As a nonprofit organization, Houston Hospice relies upon over 300 volunteers to help set the tone for the compassionate care patients and families receive. Since 2003, Debbie Hoelscher has volunteered in both the inpatient care center and in patients’ homes. Volunteer Coordinator, Patsy Piner said, “It wouldn’t be Monday at hospice without Debbie here tending the flowers, tending the patients, and bringing serenity and calmness into our lives.”

Volunteering With Hospice Isn’t For Everyone

About her work in hospice Debbie states, “The families truly appreciate the smallest gift of your time and doing this type of work gives me a great sense of gratefulness.” Debbie also trains incoming volunteers and many have noted her ability to engage and be at ease with patients and their families. Ms. Piner added, “We often say that volunteering with hospice is not for everyone, but Debbie has a gift for this type of work and we are glad she spends her Mondays with us.”

Volunteers are an integral part of nonprofit Houston Hospice’s team; serving patients and families with caring expertise in the Houston Hospice care center, in patients’ homes and in assisted living facilities. To learn more about volunteering at Houston Hospice, call 713-467 7423 or visit www.houstonhospice.org.

-Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communication Specialist

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Service of Remembrance Brings Closure for Hospice Worker

Every six months Gloria Garza coordinates a service of remembrance. Gloria’s been putting together these biannual observances for 15 years; since she came to work for Houston Hospice in 2000. CandlesShe invites families, makes sure the ceremony runs smoothly, and organizes a reception with food and punch. At the service on April 30, 2015 at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Wharton, 135 people were remembered. “This event means a lot to our families. They get the opportunity to see the staff that helped them with their loved ones again,” said Gloria. “And, we get to see how the families are doing. After the service, we walk over to the fellowship hall and have refreshments and the families talk to the staff and exchange stories, hugs, tears, and appreciation for the care and for the service they just attended.”

The services of remembrance began when hospice employees realized that both they and the community needed a way to honor their patients and to have closure. After fifteen years of planning some thirty services, the April 30 observance was different for Gloria. As usual prayers were recited, music was played, and, as their loved ones’ names were called, families were invited to the altar to light a candle. However this time, the name of Gloria’s mother, Lena Quintanilla, was among those called.

Lena, the family matriarch, suffered a massive stroke on January 8, 2015. Four days later her doctor told the family there was nothing more they could do. Gloria responded saying, “Call Houston Hospice now.” As a hospice employee, she knew she had a right to select the hospice of her choice, and because she was designated as her mother’s medical power of attorney agent, she knew it was what Lena wanted. “We already talked about what she wanted and what I should do,” said Gloria. “It made it so much easier. I had a hard decision to make. Even if it was not what I wanted, I had to honor what she wanted. She didn’t want to linger. She didn’t want to be a burden.” Gloria feels strongly about Medical Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. After she helps her siblings complete theirs, she plans to speak to community groups and help others, so that their wishes can be carried out should they become incapacitated.

Lena Quintanilla was a doting and energetic mother of five, and she had touched countless lives working as a hospice volunteer since June 2004. “She was a loving and caring mommy to me and to

Gloria Garza and Lena Quintanilla

Gloria Garza and Lena Quintanilla

everyone that knew her. She could cook Spanish rice and hot sauce like no one else. Just ask our El Campo office,” said Gloria. “My father is grappling with how to go on. She did everything for him. They were married for 72 years. She was only 14 and he was 17 when they got married. She did everything around the house. She even paid the bills. All he did was work and he was a good provider with only a second grade education.”

“About 40 people attended and the service was beautiful and peaceful,” said Gloria. “I’m normally busy helping. I sat back by the pianist like I always do, but this time my family was there. It [the service] helped us to take it in and gave us some closure that this really did happen. It means our loved ones are not forgotten and we have to go on.” Gloria stilled a slight quaver that threatened to expose her sorrow and continued, “My oldest sister, who lives in Clear Lake came and she was so touched that we do this every six months. She told me she wants to come to the next one. I asked why since she wouldn’t know anyone and she said she would light another candle for mama.”

Houston Hospice is Houston’s only nonprofit hospice, providing care for patients and families throughout ten counties. To learn more about the local bereavement services offered by Houston Hospice, visit www.houstonhospice.org, or call 979-578-0314 or 800-420-6193.

-Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communication Specialist

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Pat Matthes: A Heart for Hospice

After a long career dedicated to helping others, Bay City native, Pat Matthes, is retiring at the end of May. Pat has served as a Social Worker for Houston Hospice for thirteen years.

Pat Matthes

Pat Matthes

During that time, he regularly traveled throughout a 50-mile radius of his El Campo office; helping patients and families during their times of greatest need.

Pat’s career as a Social Worker began in 1976. During an almost 40-year career he worked in private practice, helped special needs patients in Bay City, and tried his hand at Hospital Administration before filling a rewarding niche as a Social Worker for Houston Hospice. “I love my job very much,” said Pat. “I love the team. I love the people at Houston Hospice. They’re a class act.” When asked what he’ll miss most Pat answered, “I’m going to miss hearing people’s stories. There are always beautiful stories in hospice.”

Pat’s colleagues anticipate that his absence will be strongly felt. Houston Hospice Professional Relations Liaison, Tiffany Livanec said, “If there was a national ‘Heart of Hospice’ award, Pat would certainly be the recipient. I’ve rarely met anyone who didn’t know him, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t sing his praises. He will definitely be greatly missed.”

Volunteer Coordinator, Gloria Garza said of Pat, “We have been together for so many years with Houston Hospice – El Campo. He is an amazing, compassionate and kind soul. I am greatly going to miss my friend!”

Pat’s not exactly sure what he’ll do in retirement, but he knows it will involve helping people. He plans to volunteer for First Baptist Church of Bay City where he’s a member. Pat said he likes building things and looks forward to helping the Baptist Men’s Association, a group that provides assistance in the aftermath of disaster. He said he might consider volunteering with hospitals and hospice too.

Houston Hospice is Houston’s only nonprofit hospice, providing care for patients and families throughout ten counties. To learn more about Pat’s retirement celebration or the local services offered by Houston Hospice, visit www.houstonhospice.org, or call 979-578-0314 or 800-420-6193.

-Karla Goolsby, Houston Hospice Communication Specialist

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The Man in Overalls

Overalls

The volunteer called and said she would not be able to make her regular shift at the reception desk. As the Volunteer Coordinator, it fell to me to sit at the desk that afternoon. It happened to be a very busy day. Four patients were admitted in just two hours. I was frantically trying to keep up when a man clad in bib overalls came in the front door. He looked around slowly and approached the desk. He told me his wife was coming to the Hospice from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that afternoon. He wanted to know what room she would be in. I gave him the information, offered him a cup of coffee and invited him to make himself comfortable while he waited for the ambulance to bring his wife.

After he got his coffee, I expected him to go into the family room or go to his wife’s room to wait. Instead, he just stood there, looking at me with woefully sad eyes. The silence was heavy. I didn’t really know what to say; lots of things were racing through my mind. I was searching for something brilliant, meaningful, perhaps even profound, to say to make him feel better. I was coming up with nothing when I remembered volunteer training. Maybe this was one of those times when silence was the best choice.

So, I stopped what I was doing, looked at him and smiled, just a little. With a heavy sigh, he put his callused hands up on the ledge and began to talk, very slowly. He talked of his wife’s cancer, of her pain and of his pain, as a result of hers. He talked about his daughter and how she helped so much. He talked about his wife wanting to stay with her sister if she stabilized enough to leave here. He said he really didn’t like staying anywhere except home but right now his wishes didn’t matter much. He said all he wanted was for her not to hurt, be as happy as she could be and make the most of the time she had left. He was willing to do whatever it took, even sleep in a strange bed, if that is what she wanted.

He looked off in the distance, shook his head and told me about the many people he and his wife had helped over the years. These same people were nowhere to be found now that they could use some friendly support. His eyes became teary as he shared how the parking lot attendant at M.D. Anderson had only charged him for one day’s parking after he lost his ticket and told her he had been there for at least three days.

He marveled at how a complete stranger could be so kind when lifelong friends didn’t even call. His voice cracked as he wondered out loud why these people couldn’t just say it was too hard to visit and see his wife so sick. Instead, they said nothing and their silence really hurt. He hung his head, wiped a tear from his cheek and asked where he could smoke. After I told him, he turned slowly and left, without another word.

I sat there quietly thinking about what had just occurred. I felt so privileged to have been allowed to listen as this gentle man poured out his hurts, to me, a stranger. I don’t know why he chose me, except maybe he took the silence that I wrestled with as an invitation to say what had probably been on his mind and in his heart for a very long time. I hope he felt better after he talked. I know listening to him was a gift for me. I learned valuable lessons from that man in bib overalls. I learned never to put off calling a hurting friend, even if I don’t know what to say. I know and I care says it all.

By the way, I also learned not to judge men in bib overalls!

-Patsy Piner, Houston Hospice Volunteer Coordinator

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GIRL WHO INSPIRED “THE FAULT IN OUR STARS” STILL INSPIRES WITH HELP FROM HER PARENTS

Esther Grace Earl’s short life inspired the bestselling book, The Fault in Our Stars and the blockbuster movie of the same name. Since her death in 2010 she is far from forgotten as her parents prepare to bring her story to Houston and extend Esther Grace’s exuberant influence on Thursday, April 2 at the 2015 Houston Hospice Butterfly Luncheon.

This Star Won't Go Out

Lori and Wayne Earl, Esther’s parents and co-authors of New York Times Bestseller and Goodreads Choice 2014 winner This star won’t go out: The Life & Words of Esther Grace Earl, will share the amazing story of Esther Grace; her battle with cancer and her wit, courage and unflappable spirit that inspired one of the biggest teen phenomena of our era. With Esther as muse, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars explored the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

People Magazine gave This star won’t go out 4 stars saying, “This moving read will have you reaching for the tissues and smiling with delight. Stunningly alive on the page, Esther shows that sometimes the true meaning of life—helping and loving others—can be found even when bravely facing death.”

Together, Lori and Wayne contributed to and curated the memoir of their daughter, Esther Grace Earl. One of five children, Esther was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 12-years old. Before losing her battle with cancer in 2010, Esther’s friendship with John Green became the inspiration for the book and movie, The Fault in Our Stars.

Inspired by their daughter’s energy and natural empathy, Esther’s parents set up the non-profit foundation This Star Won’t Go Out (TSWGO). The foundation works to serve families with children diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. To date, TSWGO has given away $200,000 in financial grants.

Lori Earl works as an Instructor and Student Success Coach at Quincy College. A certified secondary English teacher, with degrees in Psychology and Intercultural Studies, she is passionate about encouraging others to move towards wholeness, live life fully, and make a difference in their world.

Wayne and Lori Earl_Credit Jesse Costa-WBUR

Lori and Wayne Earl – Photo Credit Jesse Costa

Wayne Earl has taught philosophy for many years at Quincy College and he taught English overseas in Belgium and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Wayne has served several churches as a protestant minister in Massachusetts and France and worked as an ecumenical chaplain for Volunteers of America, a social services organization that focuses its work serving the very neediest. In college and seminary Wayne studied psychology and theology and he recently completed doctoral studies in Spirituality and Story at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC. His doctoral project focused on young adult grief and resilience and is entitled: Giving Sorrow Words: Helping Young Adult Grief Find Its Voice.

The Butterfly Luncheon supports a cause that is very close to the Earl’s hearts — it benefits the operations of Houston Hospice and provides the primary funds to support the Butterfly Program. The Houston Hospice Butterfly Program was established in 1996 to provide for the distinct hospice needs of infants and youth aged 18 and younger. The program includes perinatal services for families who have received a prenatal diagnosis indicating their infant will likely have a limited lifespan. A Butterfly Team consisting of physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, aides and volunteers with expertise in children’s physical and emotional well-being, is devoted to caring for children and their families. The Butterfly Program’s maxim is, “Measure not the length of their days, but the grace of their flight.”

On behalf of Chairmen Lesha and Tom Elsenbook, the community is invited to attend the Butterfly Luncheon and be inspired by Esther Grace, through her parents Lori and Wayne Earl, on Thursday, April 2, 2015 at the beautiful Houstonian Hotel located at 111 North Post Oak Lane, Houston, Texas 77024. Individual tickets and table reservations are available at www.houstonhospice.org. For more information about the Houston Hospice Butterfly Program and Luncheon, visit www.houstonhospice.org or call 713-677-7123.

Founded in 1980, Houston Hospice has evolved from an alternative, grass roots concept to a leader in hospice care for people of all ages and walks of life. Houston’s oldest, largest, independent hospice is a nonprofit organization that is community-based and community-supported. Houston Hospice serves Texans from all socio-economic groups irrespective of ethnicity or beliefs. Care is provided in-home and in residential facilities throughout Austin, Brazoria, Colorado, Fort Bend, Harris, Jackson, Matagorda, Montgomery, Waller and Wharton Counties. Inpatient and respite care is provided through the Margaret Cullen Marshall Hospice Care Center located in the Texas Medical Center.

-Karla Goolsby

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HOSPICE SERVICES SUPPORT THE LOVING CARE OF FAMILIES

As our population ages, medical professionals are finding that cultural factors influence the decisions of the patients and their families as their illnesses progress. End of life care involves a time of

Dr. Hanh Trinh

Dr. Hanh Trinh

medical, financial, and emotional changes for patients and their families. Patients can be referred to hospice when they are diagnosed with a terminal condition with a prognosis of 6 months or less. Hospice provides a team-oriented method of addressing not just physical pain, but also spiritual and emotional pain.

The cost of hospice care is covered entirely by Medicare and Medicaid for patients with these benefits. For those patients with private insurance, verifying benefits with the insurance company is important prior to signing on. The hospice team can provide services wherever the patient lives, whether that is in a home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. In the case that the patient has uncontrolled symptoms of pain, nausea, shortness of breath, or restlessness, hospice has inpatient facilities which may provide a higher level of care.

Having a hospice team to address their concerns and a 24-hour hospice nurse to call can provide families with the peace of mind that they are not alone, even in their most trying times. The hospice team can follow patients and families on their journey through illness; from the time their active treatments are no longer beneficial, to comforting moments enriched by hospice’s supportive care when patients can be among their loved ones. To learn more about hospice comfort care visit www.houstonhospice.org or call 713-467-7423 (713-HOSPICE).

Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD

Thuy Hanh Trinh, MD, MBA, FAAFP, FAAHPM, WCC, is an Associate Medical Director at Houston Hospice in Houston, Texas. She received her medical degree from Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans and trained in family medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Following residency, she completed her geriatric fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine and her palliative medicine fellowship at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She joined Houston Hospice in 2007 and serves as the Education Liaison.

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