A golfer participates in the Hospice Celebration of Life tournament in 2009. This is the 17th year for the dinner and golf event, which raises funds for hospice and bereavement programs in Routt and Moffat counties.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

A golfer participates in the Hospice Celebration of Life tournament in 2009. This is the 17th year for the dinner and golf event, which raises funds for hospice and bereavement programs in Routt and Moffat counties.

Aging Well: Dinner and golf event celebrates hospice programs

Hospice celebration

The fundraising dinner is at 6 p.m. June 14 at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. Dinner tickets cost $60 each. Sponsorships are available. The golf tournament is June 15 at Catamount Ranch & Club. Registration is at 8 a.m.

For more information about the event, visit www.hospicecelebration.com. To purchase dinner tickets or to register a golf team, call Lisa Brown at 871-7620.

It is said that life is best lived in the present. That adage is perhaps no more poignant than when the end of life is near.

When a person’s fight is finished and their focus turns to peace — and the present — there is hospice.

Hospice teams provide medical, emotional and spiritual support to terminally ill individuals seeking comfort and meaning in their final days.

Yampa Valley residents and families have benefited from such a program — Hospice & Palliative Care Services of Northwest Colorado — for 17 years.

“We see hospice as living life fully before you die,” said Katy Thiel, social worker and grief counselor for the program. “We are here to help a person do that.”

The community will have an opportunity to celebrate the program, the people who have benefited and those who make it possible, at a dinner and golf tournament fundraiser June 14 and 15.

Proceeds from the annual event support hospice and grief support programs, which are nonprofit services of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans cover hospice care, but coverage is limited or nonexistent for an increasing number of hospice patients.

Fundraising proceeds help pay for medical equipment, medication, alternative therapies, staff and grief support, ensuring all patients receive the same level of care.

“We heavily rely on donations of the community and funders,” hospice director Shannon Winegarner said.

A person must be diagnosed with a terminal illness by a doctor and have six months or less of life expectancy to receive hospice care.

Care is delivered wherever a patient chooses to be, whether it’s in their home, a hospital or skilled nursing facility. The Rollingstone Respite House in Steamboat Springs provides a home-like environment for terminally ill individuals who are not able to die at home.

Hospice teams typically include a medical director, nurses, social worker, chaplain, volunteers and the patient’s health care provider, who work together to make the patient as comfortable as possible.

This can involve easing pain, physically and emotionally, helping a patient get their affairs in order, as well as helping with household tasks.

Although many people consider hospice during a person’s final weeks of life, it’s more beneficial to the patient and family if they are enrolled much earlier.

“There’s so much support we can offer a patient and family that adds quality to the end of their life,” Winegarner said.

Jamie Carbone, who experienced hospice before her grandfather died and later as a hospice nurse, appreciates the program’s holistic approach to caring for the patient and family.

Emotions ran high among family members during her grandfather’s final days. The hospice team provided the back up they needed to bond in the face of difficulty.

“The last few weeks were amazing. … We were able to function as a family with him there,” she said. “There’s no way we could have done that without that support.”

Grief support is an important component of hospice care, before and after a patient dies.

Grief counselors provide personal and group bereavement support and check up on families more than a year after a patient passes. Poogie’s place at Rollingstone Respite House provides grief support programs specifically for children and youths.

“You go through phases emotionally,” Carbone said. “It makes you feel good to know someone is thinking about you.”

For information about hospice, visit www.nwcovna.org or call Winegarner at 871-7626.

Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at tmanzanares@nwcovna.org. Aging Well, a division of Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and older. For more information, visit www.agingwelltoday.com or call 871-7676.

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