Fundraising luncheon 6/3/15 11:00-1:00!

Thelma is having one of her famous lunches at Carpenter’s Hall with proceeds being donated to Circle of Life!   The Lunch is scheduled for June 3rd and runs from 11:00-1:00 and benefits the operating expenses of Circle of Life Hospice.  Make sure to stop by for a great lunch and a great cause!

Circle of Life Offering Bereavement Support Group

Circle of Life Hospice is pleased to offer new sessions of our Bereavement Support Group starting Sunday April 12th.  This support group is for anyone who has been through a difficult loss and would like some support and tools for living life to the fullest in the days ahead.  The support group is completely free and the schedule is as follows:

What: Bereavement Support Group

When: 5:30 Sunday Evenings Now through May 17

Why:  To better understand what you are going through and the emotions involved and how to receive some tools to help you through it

National Hospice Month Helps Clear up Misconceptions

 Circle of Life Hospice in Chariton, IA, along with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization are teaming up to help promote November as National Hospice Month.  During November, extra emphasis is made to deliver the message regarding what hospice is all about.

As with any kind of health care, there are going to be some misconceptions that aren’t necessarily true.  Circle of Life Hospice Administrator Sherry Mcdonald, RN, says “Every day we encounter families and potential patients who have a false impression of what we do.  It is not their fault, but simply a result of a lack of awareness and proper information readily available in communities throughout our country.  That is why the NHPCO and Circle of Life Hospice take the extra time during National Hospice Month every November to help educate our community and promote the wonderful services Hospice Care offers.”

To help defuse some common misconceptions about Hospice Care, Circle of Life Hospice wanted to share these 9 common misconceptions about Hospice and what is actually the truth about Hospice Care:

* Hospice is where you go when there is nothing more a doctor can do

Hospice is care designed for patients with a life-limiting illness. Hospice is not where you go to die, rather hospice professionals are trained to assist patients in living their lives fully, completely, and without pain until the end of their lives.

*To be eligible for hospice, I have to be in the final stages of dying

Hospice patients and families receive care for an unlimited amount of time, depending upon the course of the illness. There is no fixed limit on the amount of time a patient may continue to receive hospice services. 

*Quality care at the end of life is very expensive

Medicare beneficiaries pay little or nothing for hospice. For those ineligible for Medicare, most insurance plans, HMO’s, and managed care plans cover hospice care.

*If I choose hospice care, I have to leave my home

Hospice care is provided wherever the patient may be: in their own home or a family member’s, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility.  Hospice is also provided in in-patient units, VA Hospitals, and some correctional facilities.  Remember, it is your choice which hospice provider you choose to use no matter where you live!

*Families are not able to care for people with life limiting illnesses

Family members are encouraged, supported, and trained by hospice professionals to care for their loved ones. Hospice staff is on call to the patient and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help family and friends care for their loved ones.

*Hospice care is only for cancer or AIDS patients

Fifty percent of hospice patients are diagnosed with conditions other than cancer or AIDS.

 *Hospice is just for the elderly

Hospice is for anyone facing a life-limiting illness, regardless of age.

*There’s no hospice in my area

Less than one percent of Medicare beneficiaries live in an area where hospice is not available.

*After the patient’s death, hospice care ends

Bereavement services and grief support are available to family members for up to one year after the death of a patient.

As you can see, hospice is available to everyone, anywhere and covers a multitude of illnesses.  Families who have used hospice care for a loved one can testify to the great services and loving care hospice provides.  For more information about hospice or to inquire about services or a free consultation, please visit the Circle of Life Hospice website at  or call 641-774-3490.

November is National Hospice Month!

Circle of Life Hospice Recognizes National Hospice and Palliative Care Month


November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and Circle of Life Hospice wants to continually educate the community about what Hospice is.

“Coping with a serious or life-limiting illness is not easy. In fact, it might be the hardest work you’ll ever do. Working with doctors and hospitals, navigating the maze of care needs, figuring out insurance coverage, all in addition to taking care of your family can be overwhelming,” said Sherry McDonald,RN and Circle of Life Hospice Administrator.  “We want the community to know that there’s help available that brings comfort, love and respect when they’re most needed.”

 Hospice and palliative care are different than traditional healthcare services. Hospices provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible. Palliative care makes these services available earlier in the course of an illness.  Together, hospice and palliative care combine the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support that are so important for patients and family caregivers coping with serious and life-limiting illness.

 “We’re working hard all year round to make sure people know the full range of services that we provide in the community,” added McDonald.  “Yet during November, we ramp up our efforts to raise awareness of the high-quality care that’s available. In fact, that’s the message behind this year’s National Hospice Month theme: Comfort, Love, Respect.”

 Every year, more than 1.6 million people living with a life-limiting illness receive care from the nation’s hospice and palliative care providers reports the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

 Information about hospice and palliative care is available from Circle of Life Hospice by calling 641-774-3490 or visiting them on the web at

Medicare Open Enrollment Coming – BE PREPARED!

The following is information Circle of Friends Home Care and Circle of Life Hospice would like to make available to the the residents of Chariton and the surrounding communities we serve.  If you currently have Medicare you will want to read this and make sure you are aware of your rights.  Thanks for reading!

Medicare Open Enrollment

Circle of Friends Home Care and Circle of Life Hospice want to make sure all of our clients know their rights in regards to the Medicare Open Enrollment Period coming soon.  Medicare’s annual enrollment period will begin October 15 and continue through December 7. During this time, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plan providers may solicit Medicare participants to change their Medicare plan.  Circle of Friends Home Care is committed to ensuring that Medicare participants make an informed choice that will best meet their needs.  Before joining a plan, you should understand the type of plan you are joining.  Some plans may have restrictions that may limit your options in health care providers, add additional co-payments for services you frequently use and other benefit changes you may not want.  Your local SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) representative can provide the necessary information to assist you in making an informed choice. Lucas County residents may contact Lucas County Health Center Volunteer Services at 641-774-3226 to schedule an appointment with a SHIIP representative.  Additional information may also be found at

There are specific guidelines that insurance providers must follow when marketing their products. They may not solicit enrollees door-to-door or in common areas like lobbies or hallways. They cannot make unwanted calls, or leave voicemails, state they are calling on behalf of Medicare or that Medicare asked them to call. To report concerns of specific complaints about inappropriate marketing practices, please contact CMS (Centers for Medicare / Medicaid Services) 1-816-426-5783.

If you have questions or concerns about your Medicare plan or health care options, feel free to contact Circle of Friends Home Care at 641-774-2339.

Preventing Falls for the Elderly

Here is a nice piece with some practical ideas on preventing falls for the elderly.  Nothing complex but things we often just take for granted because we are able to do them easily can be dangerous hazards as we age.  Take a look and maybe someone you know is at risk and you can help them!


Caring for the Elderly by Preventing Falls By :

One bad fall for an elderly individual can lead to serious problems that require a hospital stay, loss of independence, lengthy rehabilitation, or worse. This is why it is so important to remain proactive in decreasing the risk of falls. There are several methods for reducing the risk of falls. Take on a comprehensive fall prevention plan so that you or your loved ones will stay safe.

Improve Strength and Balance

Many elderly individuals and their families reduce the physical activities of the elderly person as a safety precaution. Unfortunately, lack of activity is actually a leading cause of falls. Healthcare professionals now encourage the elderly to remain as active as possible through a variety of physical activities. Regular exercise is important for strength, balance, stamina, proper walking gait, and quicker reflexes. Those who live sedentary lifestyles are far more susceptible to falling than those who make exercise a regular part of their lifestyle. Choose a physical activity that is suited to a person’s mobility. Many elderly individuals benefit greatly from low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, and walking.

Activities that stimulate the brain are also important in order to improve reaction time. Games or activities that are mentally stimulating exercise the brain in a way that can help to keep elderly people sharp and mentally focused on the tasks at hand, which could save them from a dangerous fall.

Safeguarding the Home Environment

Elderly people who live at home should carefully assess their home for potential dangers that may cause falls. For instance, if a throw rug is constantly presenting a problem for an elderly person, you could consider tacking it down or removing it altogether. Individuals with very limited mobility should live in one-floor units or should only use the first floor in order to prevent dangerous falls.

It’s important to look at a home from the perspective of someone who cannot easily navigate uneven surfaces or who is susceptible to slipping. For example, a bathtub may not be suitable for a person who finds it difficult to lift their legs up and into the tub. Attempting to do so on a daily basis is likely to lead to a fall eventually. A shower setup with a non-slip mat may become a necessity.

Assess Medications and Medical Conditions

If an elderly person reports feeling dizzy or confused, the cause may be a medication or a medical condition. For instance, there are drugs that have side effects that make individuals more susceptible to falls. When drugs are used in combination, there can also be undesirable side effects. Talk with your doctor to find out if the side effects you are experiencing could be caused by your medications or a medical condition. They may be able to come up with a solution that will reduce your risk of falling from dizziness or other side effects. By making a careful assessment of what may be causing unsteadiness in an elderly person, you can begin to take steps toward reducing the risk of falls.

A Few Stats on Hospice in the United States

Circle of Life Hospice, in Chariton, IA came across a few stats posted by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) recently that show how Hospice is steadily becoming a top option among terminally ill patients in America.  According to the NHPCO, almost 42% of those who died in the United States in 2009 were being cared for by a hospice at the time of death.  The report states that 1.56 million patients were served by hospice in 2009, up from 1.45 million in 2008, 1.4 million in 2007, 1.3 million in 2006 and 1.2 million in 2005.  You can see the steady yearly increase.  One of the reasons Hospice care is on the rise is that agencies such as Circle of Life Hospice not only assist with the patient’s medical needs but are also very involved with the family’s needs such as emotional and spiritual counseling.  Add to these services the benefit of room & board options at the Beautiful Legacy Lodge Hospice House and you have personal, compassionate care that cannot be met by any other type of health care provider.  The Legacy Lodge has been steadily full for the last month as word about the great care the staff at the Legacy Lodge spreads throughout communities.

One other stat that might surprise people is that 60% of patients who elected hospice in 2009 had a diagnosis other than cancer.  Too often, hospice is viewed as a service just for cancer patients.  In reality, non-cancer illnesses are accounting for 60% of hospice cases.  These illnesses include heart disease, dementia, lung disease, stroke or coma, kidney disease, general debility and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Remember, the earlier you talk to Circle of Life Hospice, the more you understand how we can help and your family will be able to fully utilize all of the services we offer.  There are a lot of common miss-perceptions about Hospice, but as the statistics show, more and more families are realizing the benefits of hospice and choosing hospice care at the end of life.


Circle of Life would like to credit the NHPCO and Quality of Life Publishing for stats and information for this article.

Handling Depression During Grieving Period

Circle of Life Hospice in Chariton, IA realizes the grief we experience after losing someone close to us is one of the most difficult times of our life.  The Circle of Life Hospice Chaplain and staff are always available to talk to you after your loss.  Part of the great services provided by Circle of Life Hospice also includes bereavement follow up to the family of our patients for a minimum of one year.  When we come across articles or items we find informative or helpful we like to pass them on.  Here is one such article written by Pat Gibson and courtesy of  Pat lost her husband and shares her feelings on how she came to grips with her grief and realized she was starting to face depression.  Here is her short story:


It has almost been a year since my significant other, my soul mate, my better half, or any other endearing term I can use to describe my spouse, has passed away. He is gone forever and I am as alone now as I was last December when he died. I suffer from feelings of despair and emptiness. I have lost my zest for living and no one seems to understand. Everyone keeps saying my feelings will be different in time. But how long will it take? I feel so confused and depressed because the one I loved and cherished is gone.

Last weekend, my wise intelligent wanna -be doctor sister pulled me aside with some earth-shaking advice I found helpful and thought I should share with others who might be experiencing some of these same feelings. She said I was suffering from mild depression and if I didn’t do something soon, it might evolve into a serious clinical depression that would require medication or worse, a trip to a hospital. What did I have to lose? She seemed sincere and was offering help.

The first thing she said was for me to acknowledge that I was depressed. She got me to describe my feelings and the hurt I was experiencing. By doing this, I was able to accept those feelings and accept my loss. Talking with her about my feelings relieved a lot of emotional and physical stress. I had been isolating myself from family and friends and I refused to acknowledge how I really felt. When I acknowledged my fears and anger for being left alone, I felt like I had taken medicine for my grief.

I recognized the negative feelings and beliefs that I was harboring, like I was worthless without my loved one or I couldn’t make it alone. I reached for higher spiritual strength to help me believe in myself. I began to recognize the things I have control over. Those things that I can’t control, I had to let go and put in God’s hand. The more I relied on the higher power, the more comfort and guidance I received.

The more educated I became about depression and feelings, the sooner my feelings changed to positive ones. I know I am not alone, so I decided to share my feelings with others through church groups, support groups, and blogs on the internet. This helped me create options for dealing with the fear, anger, guilt, and negative thoughts that surface when I am having a pity party.

Dealing with depression while grieving is not easy, but it can be done. I have begun my journey. You too, can join me by starting to recognize your feelings, believing in yourself, and making positive affirmations about yourself daily.

What Do I Say to a Grieving Person?

What Do I Say to a Grieving Person?

A person you know has just died…a neighbor, a church member, a co-worker’s family member.  You are touched and want to show the family that you care.  What do you say?  How do you let them know you care without saying something stupid?

Here are some commonly used phrases you may want to consider avoiding in the future:

  • “How are you doing?”  – The hurting person will not tell you the truth because (a) they don’t think you really care (b) you are not in the right place to have time to listen to the whole story of how they are doing (c) they don’t believe you will like what you hear and that you may look at them with disdain if you knew the truth.
  • I know how you feel” –  You just robbed the person of his/her unique identity.  No one knows how you feel about things.  Why would you assume to know them so very well?  This also starts to make their situation about you, its not.
  • Call me if you need anything” –  This is usually useless.  While it gives you a few words to escape out the door with, at no time have I sat thinking to myself “now I am going to call _____ to ask them to mow my yard and take me to lunch because I am having a bad day”.  Think about it, how often has someone actually called you after you have made this statement?
  • It’s for the best.   He’s at peace now.  She’s in a better place.  He’s not suffering anymore.  It’s a blessing.” – Cheery words or looking on the bright side.  But these words shame the hurting person into feeling something they are not yet ready to feel.  Let them reach these conclusions.  Don’t tell them how they should be looking at things.  They may not be ready to feel this way.

Another good tip to remember is to use personal experiences sparingly.  Remember that your conversation with a suffering person is not about you and the other person.  It is strictly about the one suffering.  The more you are able to focus on the suffering, the better friend you are to that suffering person.  LISTEN, then LISTEN some more.

In most circumstances, the only words you need to say to the suffering are:  “I am so sorry.”  Beyond that, keep quiet and prepare in your mind what you may be able to do for the family in the days ahead.  Remember that the commotion of the funeral will be over in a few days and the grieved will still need a listening ear, a casserole, a meal out, or just a phone call.  Don’t drop the ball now.

The content of the above article was taken from the book: Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart, by Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D.

A Note From The Circle of Life Hospice Chaplain

A Note From Our Chaplain

End of life issues bring many things to the table.  Not only is there the physical and the emotional needs of facing the future and its struggles, but also the spiritual side of the picture. As Chaplain for Circle of Life Hospice I have a heavy burden to help those who are in need.  I realize, however, that I am merely a man and that God is the only one who can provide true comfort in the midst of the storm.

Our God, our Heavenly Father, is real.  He cares for us as we who are parents care about our own children.  Our Heavenly Father knows our feelings and worries and cares for both the dying and those who will remain for awhile longer.  One of the greatest things Jesus did for us when He ascended back to Heaven was ask the Father to give us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called the “Comforter”(John 14:16 KJV), was sent to not only live among us, but in us if we have accepted Jesus as our personal Savior. With God’s very Spirit living inside us we get a “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7 KJV).  We get comfort from the only One who really does know what we are facing and going through.  We can pour our heart and soul out to God and will be comforted.

Hear these words spoken by Jesus in John 14:1-3 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

I believe, not only has God prepared a place for all those who are His children to go someday, but will be with us as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). If you are in that valley right now, I encourage you to allow God to bring comfort to your soul.  Myself and the great staff at Circle of Life Hospice & the Legacy Lodge are also here any time you need us.

God Bless,

Emery McDonald, Chaplain