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August 22, 2006 > Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Hospice and Support for Caregivers

Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Hospice and Support for Caregivers

by Washington Hospital

Caring for a sick, dying or disabled adult can take a heavy toll not only on the physical and mental health of caregivers, but also on their finances, careers, and other family and social relationships. Washington Hospital is offering a seminar for caregivers to learn more about the resources available to them.

“Hospice Care and Caregivers Support” is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29, in the Conrad E. Anderson, MD Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Fremont. To register, call (800) 963-7070. The seminar will be presented by Nancy Jackson, RN, and Linda Rasmussen, RN, of Pathways Hospice, along with Donna Schempp, LCSW, of the Family Caregiver Alliance.

“Caregivers pay a very high price to be caregivers,” said Schempp. “They suffer high rates of depression and illness. We try to support them in their caregiver role so it doesn’t take such a toll on them and they don’t have to sacrifice their own health and wellness.”

Schempp is program director for the Family Caregiver Alliance, which offers support and education to those who provide long-term care to a friend or family member. She will discuss the variety of resources available to caregivers in the tri-city area, including services like Meals on Wheels, transit options, social and senior services, and daycare programs.

“Caregivers need respite care and support to help alleviate some of the stress and tension that comes with providing around-the-clock care,” Schempp said. “They need to take a break. It helps them be better caregivers.”

Today unpaid caregivers fill a huge gap in health and long-term care. As our population ages, more people with chronic and disabling conditions are choosing to live at home, requiring family to get more involved in care-giving.

An estimated 44 million adults in this country provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Women caregivers outnumber men two to one and 83 percent of caregivers are family members.

“We really want caregivers to understand how important it is for them to take care of themselves,” Schempp said. “There is help available, whether it’s from other family members or friends, or services offered out in the community.”

Hospice Provides Respite Care

Hospice care can provide much-needed support for those caring for terminally ill loved ones. Hospice is generally for patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less and focuses on comfort care when a cure is no longer available. In most cases, the individual remains in his or her home, although hospice care can also be provided in nursing homes and other senior care facilities.

“Hospice is not just about the patient. It is also about supporting the family and network of caregivers,” said Rasmussen, a hospice nurse for Pathways Hospice who will explain how hospice works and who qualifies.

Hospice care involves a team-oriented approach tailored to the needs and wishes of patients and their loved ones. Nurses coordinate the hospice care team, make home visits and teach loved ones how to provide care. Chaplains and social workers are available to help meet emotional and spiritual needs. Home health aides assist with personal care while hospice volunteers offer practical support and companionship.

Hospice volunteers visit with patients and relieve caregivers, giving them a break so they can recharge, run errands and take care of personal issues. For families and caregivers who need a longer break, patients can be admitted to a skilled nursing facility for up to five days through hospice.

“Many caregivers are spouses and others who themselves are older and not in good health,” Rasmussen said. “We help caregivers get the respite care they need so they can take care of themselves.”

To register for the August 29 seminar, call (800) 963-7070. To learn more about hospice, visit or call (888) 755-7855. For more information about caregiver support, visit or call (415) 434-3388.

InHealth, A Washington Hospital Channel is currently airing “Voices InHealth: Understanding Hospice” on Comcast Channel 78. This program provides an overview of hospice and offers an inside look at what to expect from hospice care.

The InHealth program schedule is published weekly in the Tri-City Voice and posted on Washington Hospital’s website at or you can also call Health Connection at (800) 963-7070 for the program schedule. InHealth Channel 78 is available to Comcast subscribers in Newark, Union City and Fremont.

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