Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

By Carol Combs, MSW Oxford’s Memory Care Coordinator

After my recent hip surgery, I not only gained a new hip, but also a newfound understanding of what it must be like for those who are ill, disabled and homebound.

I have always been a very independent person, so being dependent for almost everything during my recovery did not come easy for me. I needed help to get up from a chair, get into bed, to use the bathroom and bathe. I couldn’t stand long enough to fix a meal. I was frustrated and impatient with myself, even though I was told to expect weeks or months of recuperation.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We all try to empathize, and sometimes say, “I know how you feel.”

But, do we really?

Maybe instead we should just say, “This must be difficult for you,” and offer support and a hug. As you encounter those who are struggling and need care and support, think about how challenging their lives may be and try to “walk a mile in their shoes.” I know I will.

Fortunately, I had a great caregiver in my husband and other family members. I am very grateful, because I know that not everyone has that kind of support. If you or someone you know is in need of help and support—whether it be short term or long term help—please call and speak to one of our Care Coordinators, they will be glad to assist you.



By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, exposure to the cold—whether indoors or outside—can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are most at risk, but anyone can be affected.

Be safe and be prepared for hazards associated with extremely cold weather.

Winter Weather Prep Tips:

Have a winter survival kit in your home that consists of:

  • Food that needs no cooking or refrigeration such as bread, crackers, cereal, canned foods and dried fruits. If you have young children, don’t forget baby food and formula.
  • Water stored in clean containers or bottled water. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 5 gallons per person on hand in case pipes freeze or rupture.
  • Medicines that any family member may need.

Remember, if your home is isolated, stock up on additional food, water and medicine.

Have an emergency supply list. Some handy and essential items to include:

  • an alternate way to heat your home during a power failure
  • blankets
  • matches
  • fire extinguisher
  • flashlight or battery-powered lantern and extra batteries
  • battery-powered radio and clock/watch
  • non-electric can opener
  • snow shovel
  • rock salt
  • special need items (diapers, hearing aid batteries, medications etc.)

Your ability to feel a change of temperature decreases with age, and older people are susceptible to health problems caused by cold. If you are 65 years of age or older, check the temperature of your home often during winter months. If a warm, indoor temperature cannot be maintained, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room. Provide warm clothing for infants and try to maintain a warm indoor temperature. If a warm indoor temperature cannot be maintained, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.

If you are using a fireplace, wood stove or kerosene heater, always install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Heat your home safely!

Conserve heat. Keep as much heat as possible in your home. Close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels/rags in cracks under doors, close drapes, cover windows with any extra blankets at night.
Dress warmly and stay dry. Do not ignore shivering—it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a sign to return indoors.
Avoid exertion. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have to work outside, dress warmly and work slowly.
Eat and drink wisely. Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages—they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
Listen to weather forecasts regularly. Weather forecasters often give several days’ notice when impending cold weather is approaching. Check your emergency supplies when periods of extreme cold are predicted.


Excerpts from the CDC Extreme Cold Prevention Guide

*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.

Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

The holidays can be demanding, overwhelming and for some, down right depressing. Bombarded with expectations and so many things to do, it is easy to fall victim to holiday stress.

If you let the stress of the holidays get to you, it is hard to stop and regroup. The key is to take steps to prevent stress or depression from occurring in the first place. Here are a few tips that just might help you get through the holidays.

  1. Be realistic: The holidays don’t have to be perfect!
  2. Set aside differences: Try and accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. As my dear mother-in-law used to say, “People aren’t always going to do to suit you.” Even if for one day, steer clear of topics that tend to cause upset in the family.
  3. Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out social events. Volunteering your time to help others can lift your spirits and perhaps broaden your friendships.
  4. Acknowledge your feelings: If you can’t be with loved ones, or if someone close to you recently died, it is normal to feel sadness and grief. It is OK to take time to cry and express your feelings.
  5. Stick to a budget: Merchants start offering holiday sales earlier and earlier and the urge to overspend can be very tempting. Before you go shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend and stick to that amount.
  6. Plan ahead: Pick days you are going to shop, bake, decorate, gift-wrap, etc. Plan your menus so you can make a shopping list. You don’t want to have to run to the store for those last minutes items you forgot.
  7. Learn to say no: Saying yes to every project or activity can make you feel very resentful, overwhelmed and even take the joy out of the holidays.
  8. Don’t abandon healthy habits: Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Eat healthy snacks, get plenty of sleep and try and incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  9. Take a breather: Make some time for yourself. Find something that can restore your inner calm.
  10. Seek professional help if needed: Sometimes your best efforts still leave you feeling persistently sad or anxious. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor.

It is important to recognize the holiday triggers that cause you stress or depression, and combat them before they lead you to a place where you lose the peace and joy of the holiday season.

Excerpts from Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle


*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.


Oxford Hospice Hosts Annual Daughters Without Mothers Spring Tea & Seminar

Daughters Without Mothers Spring Tea and Seminar, an annual event presented by Oxford Hospice, will be held on Saturday, April 18 at the Messiah Lutheran Church, 925 E. Seminole Street in Springfield.

This free event is from 1:00-3:30 p.m. and features special door prizes and gifts donated from local businesses, plus sandwiches, fruits and teas catered by Aviary Café and Creperie.

Renee Jenkins, Bereavement Coordinator for Oxford HealthCare Hospice, says the Spring Tea is purposefully held before Mother’s Day. “For many women whose mothers have died, Mother’s Day can be especially painful and bring a sense of isolation and loneliness. Our desire is to create an atmosphere of comfort, acceptance and support. Because of this, many women look forward to returning year after year and have shared that it helps them look forward to Mother’s Day instead of dreading it.”

Oxford Hospice offers this event free of charge to the community to encourage daughters and cultivate warm memories of their mothers. To RSVP, contact Renee Jenkins at 417-883-7500.

Oxford HealthCare, an affiliate of CoxHealth, is the leading home health care agency in southwest Missouri providing the care individuals need to remain in the comfort of home.


November is National Hospice Month

By Elizabeth M. Lee, RN

Once again we celebrate a wonderful and caring option of care for patients who are facing end of life illness. Many people think hospice means a place to die. It is not. It is a specialized program and philosophy of health care to provide comfort for individuals approaching the end of life.

Seven out of 10 Americans say they would prefer to die at home, according to a CNN poll, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 25 percent actually do.

Dying is difficult to talk about, even difficult to think about. Death is neither a concept nor a medical rarity, yet dying is not to be viewed as a simple event. If the attempt to reverse the course of a terminal disease is medically futile and only leads to prolonged pain and suffering for the patient and family, then the logical decision is to change the pattern and goal of care to provide more satisfying results.

Embracing the hospice philosophy of palliation (comfort measures) for both the patient and family enables the patient to receive excellent pain management and undesirable symptom control. Patient goals of care are foremost and must be included in daily care.

Providing patient and family comfort through hospice requires, by definition, a holistic approach that encompasses medical, nursing, psychosocial, spiritual, and ultimately bereavement care. The patient and the family are the unit of care. This approach makes hospice unique in the health care field. Hospice care requires more attention to detail to be effective than acute care, in that it deals with the whole person, not just a disease.

An interdisciplinary team is utilized in the care of the patient. This includes:

  • Physician
  • Nurse
  • Social worker
  • Chaplain
  • Aide
  • Grief services

Hospice care emphasizes supporting a patient to live fully during a time of decline. It offers new hope and goals, not for survival, but for physical and emotional comfort and dignity. This care is mainly offered in the patient’s home, or wherever “home” is located.

In the United States we are fortunate. We have the Hospice Medicare Benefit that covers the care, medications, supplies, equipment that is necessary for the patient’s end of life illness. Many private insurance plans also provide a hospice benefit as well as some state Medicaid plans. This is a huge cost savings for the patient and family.

For more information on our Hospice and Palliative Care programs, contact one of our Care Coordinators today who will be glad to assist you.