All Posts By

Courtney Cook

older woman smiling while talking to a volunteer

Volunteering with Hospice: What Volunteers Do and How to Get Involved

By Hospice

Hospice volunteers play a vital role in end-of-life care. From sitting with patients to assisting behind the scenes, volunteers give their time and energy to help those navigating the final chapters of their journey. While this task can be emotionally draining at times, volunteers can make an extraordinary impact on the lives of hospice staff, patients, and the patients’ families.

Keep reading to learn about what volunteering with hospice looks like and how you can get involved!

What a Hospice Volunteer Does

Young female hospice volunteer bringing an older injured man food

Most hospice volunteers serve hospice patients and their families by providing patient companionship and caregiver respite, allowing caregivers to have a break and attend to their own needs. Some volunteers provide transportation for patients or run errands on their behalf, while others sit with patients and talk to them, share their hobbies, and take care of their needs.

But there are also many other roles that volunteers can fill! Some hospice services need administrative help, like answering phones or filing paperwork. Other hospice volunteers help with community outreach and fundraising. Some people volunteer their professional services at a discounted rate or for free, like offering to help with landscaping, providing haircuts, or performing massage therapy.

If you have an interest that could benefit a hospice program, don’t hesitate to ask about it! You may be able to help in a way that your local hospice service hadn’t considered before.

Why Volunteers Are Important

older woman smiling while talking to a volunteer

Hospice workers have a big job, and there’s only so much they can do in a day! Volunteers help provide a deeper level of service for hospice patients. Plus, some patients don’t have family members who can visit them, and volunteers can help fill that gap and provide social support for patients. Interacting with volunteers can improve a patient’s quality of life.

Volunteers can also fill the critical job of providing respite for caregivers. Caring for someone who is terminally ill can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and volunteers can help caregivers have time to take care of their own needs and get a much-deserved break.

Even if volunteers don’t interact directly with patients and their families, their work is still important! Administrative volunteers help hospice services run smoothly, create a welcoming environment, and provide top-notch care and service for families.

Benefits for Hospice Volunteers

Young female volunteer and older woman working on a puzzle together
Volunteering with hospice doesn’t just benefit the patient and their caregivers; it also benefits the volunteer. Serving others is fulfilling work, as is the knowledge that you are positively impacting someone’s life. As volunteers build relationships with the patients and families they care for, they hear stories, meet new people, and create deep connections that help them better understand those in different situations from themselves.

Additionally, hospice volunteers who help those receiving end-of-life care often learn to appreciate life more. Everyone has a limited amount of time in their lives, and interacting with hospice patients can encourage volunteers to appreciate what they have and strive to live a more meaningful life with the time they’ve been given.

How Can You Get Involved?

male volunteer pushing an older woman in a wheelchair holding groceries

Every hospice program has its own unique needs for volunteers. While some hospice services require volunteers to be over the age of 18, others allow high school students to volunteer. Start by contacting your local hospice program and asking about their requirements and needs. You can also use the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization search to look for nearby hospice providers.

After you know more about your local hospice services, determine the amount of time you are willing to contribute and discuss your skillset with the program. They may suggest areas you can volunteer in or ways you can use your skills. After you’ve signed up and filled out all the necessary paperwork, they’ll typically provide training to help prepare you for situations you may encounter and to make sure you can care for patients well.

Becoming a hospice volunteer is more than just lending a helping hand; it’s an opportunity to impact the lives of those in end-of-life care. Giving your time and energy to those at the end of their journey can be a rewarding experience, and we hope that you’ll join the ranks of hospice volunteers who serve those in need with compassion.

smiling man playing guitar

5 Benefits of Music Therapy in Hospice

By Hospice

If you or a loved one are receiving end-of-life care, you may be looking for ways to bring a little joy to each day. Hospice care is focused on managing the patient’s symptoms and improving their quality of life, including their mental and emotional health. In recent years, music therapy has grown in popularity. Research shows that music therapy can mentally, physically, and emotionally benefit hospice patients.

But what exactly is music therapy, and how can it help? Keep reading to find out!

What is Music Therapy?

While listening to music can be helpful for hospice patients, music therapy takes things a step further. Typically, a certified music therapist will assess the patient and determine how to use music intervention to help them in a specific area.

music therapist helping a woman in hospice wearing headphones

Depending on the patient’s needs, a music therapist may use live music or a customized playlist. Some music therapists combine relaxation techniques, like visualization or breathing techniques, with music. Sometimes, the patient will play music, sing, move to music, write songs, or analyze lyrics.

It’s important to note that music therapy may not benefit everyone. Some patients may have music-related triggers. A certified music therapist will consider each patient’s needs and preferences.

Music therapy may provide the following benefits to hospice patients:

Benefit #1: Helps manage pain

line of people playing on bongo drums

As surprising as it may seem, research shows that music can help with pain management. Because music acts as a distraction, it can provide short-term relief from pain. Additionally, music therapy can help with emotional pain and distress and improve patients’ mental health. If a patient is agitated, anxious, or depressed, music can create a calming atmosphere and help them relax.

Benefit #2: Encourages communication

circle of people in hospice playing musical instruments

Sometimes music helps us express emotions that we can’t put into words. As a patient copes with their terminal diagnosis, they may struggle to understand or communicate their feelings. Music can help them recognize their feelings – whether through lyrics that they relate to or through the emotions the music evokes. Plus, music provides an outlet to physically express those feelings by singing or moving to the beat.

Benefit #3: Boosts memory

old photographs laying on a wooden table

For patients struggling with dementia, music may boost memory. Have you ever listened to a song and remembered something you did in the past while it was playing? Sometimes, we associate songs with strong memories, like our first prom or walking down the aisle at a wedding. Listening to familiar songs can help patients, even those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, access their long-term memory.

Benefit #4: Connects people

seniors in hospice dancing to music

Many people who are in hospice struggle with feeling isolated and lonely. But music has a way of connecting us to others. Not only does the patient develop a beneficial relationship with the music therapist, but music can also increase empathy. This increase in empathy may help ease tense relationships with family members. On top of that, music also brings other social aspects into play. Music brings people together, whether the patient shares their favorite songs with loved ones or connects with another patient who likes the same musical genre.

Benefit #5: Improves quality of life

smiling man playing guitar

For many patients, music therapy can improve their quality of life by helping them relax and providing comfort. Favorite songs can create a familiar environment and help patients feel more at home. Additionally, music therapy can help patients remember the happy moments they’ve spent with loved ones.

While music therapy may not be the right fit for everyone, many potential benefits exist for those in hospice care. From managing pain to releasing tension, music therapy can help improve a patient’s quality of life and make the transition to end-of-life care a little easier.

couple laughing in hospice care

4 Benefits of Laughter for Hospice Patients and Their Families

By For Caregivers & Families, Hospice

When you or someone you love receives a terminal diagnosis, laughter may be the last thing on your mind. As the transition to end-of-life care begins, you may feel overwhelmed by various emotions, like fear, anger, sadness, or despair.

But a positive mindset and humor can improve the quality of life of a hospice patient, boost their physical and mental health, and help them cope with their new situation. As you and your family begin to process the terminal diagnosis, laughter – at appropriate times – can bring you together and help you grieve well.

Here are four ways laughter and humor benefit those in hospice care. Plus, make sure you read to the end for some helpful tips for creating a positive atmosphere during this difficult time!

Benefit #1: Laughter helps you cope

family laughing together

Coping with a terminal diagnosis can be difficult for both a hospice patient and their family. But humor can help you change your perspective and make the most of the time you have left together. While death is serious, end-of-life situations often come with weird, peculiar moments, and laughing at those situations can help you have a more positive mindset. Plus, humor is a positive coping skill that can show acceptance, rather than avoidance, of the situation.

Benefit #2: Laughter provides relief

couple laughing in hospice care

Laughter can also benefit those in hospice by relieving stress and tension. When we’re in a stressful situation, we often hold in our emotions. These emotions build within us, creating pressure. Laughter releases that pressure and brings those emotions to the surface, providing relief from the stress and tension. This doesn’t mean that negative emotions disappear; instead, laughter helps us relax and cope with our emotions in a healthier way.

Benefit #3: Laughter boosts physical health

couple laughing outside together

Most of us know the old cliche, “Laughter is the best medicine.” While this statement is an exaggeration, laughter does have some healing properties! Hospice is about improving a patient’s quality of life, and laughter can help. Laughter increases oxygen intake, which provides a boost for your internal organs, and it can alleviate pain by releasing positive endorphins. Plus, laughter helps boost your immune system, improve your blood flow, and burn calories – all of which can improve your health.

Benefit #4: Laughter connects you to others

group of elderly friends laughing together

Have you ever seen or read something so funny that you had to share it with someone else? Humor has a way of bringing people together and creating connections. Laughing with others helps you let down your walls and be less defensive, encouraging you to be more vulnerable. Laughter can also decrease loneliness, which can be a big problem for some hospice patients.

Laughing with others can also help decrease relationship tension and stress. During stressful situations, like coping with a terminal diagnosis, tensions can run high, creating conflict. Humor and laughter (at appropriate times) can alleviate tension in these difficult situations. Learning to make light of the awkward moments that may come with end-of-life care can help the patient, family, and hospice workers feel more comfortable with each other.

How can you create a more positive atmosphere?

family playing watching games together and laughing

After you or a loved one receives a terminal diagnosis, it may be hard to find ways to laugh. Here are a few different ways to incorporate more humor into your daily life.

  • Find humor in situations. Little funny things happen around us all the time, and finding humor in those moments is great! Just make sure that you’re laughing with someone, not at them.
  • Watch a funny TV show, movie, or video. Everyone has a different type of humor that makes them laugh. You can watch a favorite movie that you’ve always found funny or try something new!
  • Talk with kids. Kids can say the silliest things sometimes. If you have kids, grandkids, or know anyone with kids, take time to talk to them, play with them, and ask them questions.
  • Have a game night. Playing games with friends and family can often lead to shenanigans. Just stay away from Uno Draw Fours and Monopoly’s Boardwalk!
  • Share a cheesy joke. The best part of telling someone a cheesy joke or terrible pun is making yourself laugh! Even if no one else finds the joke funny, their groans are sure to make you laugh.

As you look to laugh more, remember that timing matters! Not everyone will feel like laughing during this time, and it’s important to be sensitive to the emotions of those around you – whether you’re the patient or your loved one is. Above all, focus on using laughter to create a positive atmosphere and mindset to make this difficult time a little easier for everyone.