Hospice of the Valley Offers In-home Support for Dementia Patients, Caregivers

Hospice of the Valley Offers In-home Support for Dementia Patients, Caregivers

Posted on March 5, 2014 by ElderCare Resources Phoenix in Alzheimers Care, Blog, Caregiver Education, Dementia Care, Education, Geriatric Care Management, Home Health Care Medical, Hospice & Palliative Care, Long Term Care Information, Memory Loss, Pain Management, Respite Care


Mabel Sawyer gives her husband Bob eight hugs six times a day.

It’s the best medicine a wife could offer — particularly to a husband with Alzheimer’s disease.

“When I feel he has a long face, I say ‘oh, we’ve got to have a hug, you want one?’ Those hugs mean so much,” she said.

But who’s there to hug Mabel?

Since December, the Sawyers have been supported by Hospice of the Valley’s Palliative Care for Dementia program. They receive home visits from dementia educators, 24/7 phone access to a nurse, phone consultations with a physician who specializes in dementia and weekly visits from a volunteer.

At age 74, Mabel Sawyer still runs her own business — Accounting, Computer & Tax Services, Inc. It’s based at the couple’s Phoenix home, which abuts Glendale. Sometimes when clients visit, Bob’s wandering can be an issue.

That’s where volunteer Roman Obrycki comes in.

He visits the Sawyers every Friday morning to give Mabel some time to herself. “Bob and I play mahjong together on the computer,” Obrycki said. “We look at family photo albums. We sort out pens and pencils in his collection. We keep busy.”

Obrycki, 67, lives in north Phoenix’s Moon Valley neighborhood. With 20 years of experience as a hospice volunteer in several states, he said, “it’s a calling I need to fulfill.” He enjoys working with dementia patients.

Mabel Sawyer values his service. She also expressed gratitude to the nurses who respond to her calls — often in the middle of the night —and once following a shocking incident when her usually mild-mannered husband “blew his cork.”

“I was so upset, and the nurse listened and got me calmed down,” Mabel Sawyer said. “I feel I could talk to them without feeling embarrassed. I could cry and let it out. They were there to listen.”

Dr. Gillian Hamilton, program director, assisted with medication issues. In addition to agitation, Bob Sawyer, 81, suffered from a sleep disturbance that also kept Mabel up most of the night. With medication changes, he is sleeping much better, and so is Mabel.

Dementia educator Bianca Martinez provided information about comfort care approaches (hugs and ice cream); a referral to an elder care lawyer for financial planning and insurance advice; and assistance preparing a living will.

Program services cost $250 a month and are not covered by Medicare or insurance.

Mabel Sawyer said she considers the expenditure well worthwhile for the peace of mind it brings.

Palliative Care for Dementia is for patients at any stage of dementia who are not on hospice.

Virginia G. Piper CharitableTrust awarded Hospice of the Valley a $285,000 grant in February to support the program’s development over the next two years. Piper Trust seeks to enhance and strengthen quality of life for the people in Maricopa County through support of healthcare and medical research, children, older adults, arts and culture, education, and religious organizations.

For information, call 602-636-6363 or email PCDReferrals@azphc.org.

Published: YourWestValley.com