TMC volunteer touches community, earns Ben’s Bell

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Volunteer Bob Kridler has a long list of charities and nonprofits he supports, so it wasn’t surprising that there was a long line of admirers there to cheer him on when he was “belled” on Friday, Feb. 6.

“I’m speechless,” a smiling Kridler said, as Ben’s Bells founder Jeannette Maré gave him a handmade bell, a symbol of connection and the myriad ways recipients spread kindness throughout the community. In Kridler’s case, he donates his time serving mobile meals and sitting on the foster care review board, as well as assisting his church and Casa Maria Free Kitchen. He also volunteers at Tucson Medical Center, where he is involved with Seniors Helping Seniors, a program in which volunteers offer companionship and one-on-one support to older adults in the community.

“The care you put into this community ripples out in ways you can’t possibly know,” Maré said.

TMC Senior Services coordinator Anne Morrison, one of about 40 in attendance, said Kridler has made a difference already for a Vietnam vet who had few social connections. “He’s just one of the kindest men I’ve ever met,” Morrison said. “He has such a big heart and just wants to make the lives of others better, regardless of who or when or where.”

His pastor, Gayle Bintliff of Tanque Verde Lutheran Church, agreed. “He just does everything with the heart of a servant,” said Bintliff, who has served as lead pastor for the past 3 years. “He has so much compassion and kindness, that he is always ready to do anything he can to help someone else.”

Kridler will be featured on the MIXfm and KGUN on Feb. 13, as well as the Arizona Daily Star on Feb. 17.

Now hear this: Loop donation enhances TMC Senior Services

Thanks to a facility upgrade donated by a local physician group, attendees at TMC Senior Services classroom events may now be able to hear what’s happening more clearly than ever.

TENT Loop 1An induction loop – also known as a hearing loop or room loop – has been installed at the Healthy Living Connections classroom at TMC Senior Services, 1400 N. Wilmot, on the El Dorado Health Campus.  The organization offers a wide range of lectures and activities for older adults throughout the year.

The generous support for the upgrade comes from Tucson Ear, Nose and Throat, a local practice founded in 1987 by a core group of leading otolaryngologists. The group includes seven physicians and five audiologists, plus more than 30 staff members.

A dedication was held on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the classroom. Michael Duran, TMC Foundation vice president and chief development officer, officially thanked Tucson ENT for their generosity – adding that this really does reflect philanthropy throughout the community. He noted that the doctors saw a need among the patients they see and pooled their resources to make it better for the community.  Robert Dean, MD, treated the audience to an informative presentation on hearing loss. Members of the ALOHA (Adult Loss of Hearing Association) Board of Directors and volunteers were available to talk about support groups and other services for people with hearing loss.

L'Don Sawyer, TMC Senior Services; Michael Duran, TMC Foundation; Dr. Robert Dean, TENT; Stephanie Navarrete, TENT

L’Don Sawyer, TMC Senior Services; Michael Duran, TMC Foundation; Dr. Robert Dean, TENT; Stephanie Navarrete, TENT

The loop system employs a wire around the room and an amplifier to send an electromagnetic signal throughout the area. Hearing devices equipped with a telecoil will pick up the signal and convert it to audible sound.  Telecoils are tiny bundles of wire that are part of the mechanism inside many newer hearing aids and cochlear implants.  In addition, attendees may use special headphones provided at events to hear the amplified signal.TENT Loop 3

How end-of-life dialogue can be helpful, not heartbreaking

Jackie Isaac in May 2012, less than a year before she passed away.

Jackie Isaac in May 2012, less than a year before she passed away.

“I wonder how it will happen…”

That’s what Jackie Isaac said to her daughter Dory Martin as the two were having breakfast about a month before Jackie passed away.  “’How will I die’ is what she meant,” said Dory.

For many of us, just the thought of a loved one dying is enough to force us to think of something else – ANYTHING else – instantly.  Having a conversation with a loved one about their wishes surrounding death?  Forget it.  But that conversation doesn’t have to be so uncomfortable that’s it too much to bear.  In fact, having that talk, and knowing what your loved one wants, will make aspects of that incredibly painful time a little bit easier.  People who have experienced death firsthand shared their perspective at a critical health care decisions workshop hosted by Tucson Medical Center called Your Life, Your Plan, Your Choice. 

About 70 people attended the Your Life, Your Plan, Your Choice workshop.

About 70 people attended the Your Life, Your Plan, Your Choice workshop.

Dory spoke about her mother’s life – a life well-lived – and about having that conversation prior to her mom’s death from a neurologically based illness at the age of 85.  Before the illness consumed her, Jackie made her health care wishes known, and also wrote out an ethical will – a personal letter in which she expressed her values, experience, wisdom and end-of-life wishes.  Having the conversation about end-of-life wishes and the documents that spelled things out gave her children clear cut instructions…and left few decisions up for debate.

Understanding those wishes is a big part of palliative care.  The term “palliative care” is often confused with hospice care.  Palliative care is family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing and treating suffering.  Throughout the continuum of illness, it involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs and helps facilitate patient autonomy, access to information, and choice.  At the base of palliative care: What are the patient’s desires and wishes?

“Quite often we get so hung up on what we can do for someone medically that we don’t ask who the people are and what they would really want. And that, I feel, is the more important question,” said Kathy Kennel, NP, a Palliative Care coordinator at Tucson Medical Center.  Kathy also spoke at the workshop, opening her talk with a flashback to her mother’s dying days, and how she vowed to do whatever she could to help families at the end of life.

Dr. Larry Lincoln, TMC Hospice Medical Director, also shared a personal story about his mother, who lived in a care home with dementia and heart failure toward the end of her life.  “She told me she did not want to go on living for a year prior to her death,” he said.  Dr. Lincoln vividly remembers receiving a call from the care home.  His mother had a medical crisis in which she could have been treated and potentially moved back to the care home.  He thought about his mother’s words and made the decision not to have her treated.  She was transferred to Peppi’s House where she was kept comfortable until her death.  Even though he knew that he was following his mother’s wishes, he still struggled with being responsible for her death.  He explained that many people have this initial reaction when faced with these important decisions.  He knows that he did not kill his mother; he was simply carrying out her wishes.  He took comfort in what she expressed to him before the dementia got severe. 

Having a meaningful, open dialogue about end-of-life wishes is not easy, but this website gives you a good place to start: www.theconversationproject.org.  Advance directives are another way to provide some direction.  Formal advance projectdirectives are documents written in advance of serious illness that state your choices for health care, or name someone to make those choices, if you become unable to make decisions.  Through advance directives, such as living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care, you can make legally valid decisions about your future medical treatment.

Healthy Living Connections, a TMC Senior Resource Center, is organizing many events this fall, including a conference on Positive Aging for Women, Medicare Updates, and Caring and Coping with Tremors.  For more information, to register, or see what other classes are available, please click here.


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