Living with care – Hospice volunteer still going at 90
Margaret Richards knows she is dying and the tremors from her Parkinson’s disease don’t help.
But Margaret, 87, can still get around the Brunswick Inn care facility with her walker and her mental state has improved greatly thanks to her new friend, Lucille Lasley.
Lucille is Margaret’s hospice caregiver and has been aiding the terminally ill for the past 20 years. Lucille turns 90 today.
She started doing hospice in 1984, when her pastor in Bishop urged her.
Before he approached her, “I was helping people that were sick and having problems. It’s just something I’ve always done, it was something the Lord told me to do.”
Lucille volunteers through Hospice of the Foothills in Grass Valley. According to Jennifer Andrews, who coordinates the volunteers at the hospice, Lucille has logged 1,260 hours since 1995 and driven more than 2,500 miles to sit with patients for an hour or so at a time.
“I don’t think she has ever said no,” Andrews said. “She also sees people who are ill in her mobile home park and she has a list from her church.”
“I’ve got nothing but time,” Lucille said.
She moved here in 1993 to be close to her daughter and family after being diagnosed with macular degeneration, an eye disease. She joined the hospice shortly thereafter.
“My other daughter was in South Dakota and I didn’t want to live there,” Lucille said with her trademark grin.
Lucille enjoys calming and conversing with her patients, “because it gives meaning to my life.”
Sometimes it is hard when her patient dies, “but usually by the time they do die, they want to, they’re ready.”
Margaret turned to hospice when she learned she was terminal.
“I wanted some help,” and is getting it with Lucille. Now, “I don’t think so much about it.
“I know I’m going to die, but I don’t know when,” Margaret said. “She makes me feel better.”
Margaret said “Parkinson’s is a mean disease” and the tremors cause pain. Parkinson’s is a neurologic disease that goes after the brain cells that produce dopamine, the body’s pleasure chemical.
Lisa Fletcher is the medical social worker at the hospice. She said patients are usually referred by doctors when life-limiting maladies surface. Hospice then refers a registered nurse to the patient, who becomes the team leader.
From there, the patient gets what they need with regular visits from people like Lucille, a spiritual team member, perhaps a physical therapist and maybe even a masseuse.
“There’s no cost for the services we provide,” Andrews said. She is currently recruiting for hospice caregivers and office workers.
Caregivers receive 21 hours of training spread over three days, March 28, March 30 and April 1. Those interested can call her at 272-5739. Perhaps someone out there could become another Lucille – who shows little signs of wearing down.
“I can do everything I ever done,” she said. “It just takes me longer.”
What hospice offers free of charge
– Nursing care
– Prescription drugs
– Social worker
– Spiritual counseling
– Physical therapy
– Final arrangements
– Bereavement support
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