SSM Health at Home joined Helen on her health care journey in 2012, providing in-home health care, including physical and occupational therapy. In 2018 Helen’s needs changed, and SSM Health at Home was able to transition with her, providing care and support to her and her family through our hospice services.
While home health concentrates on helping patients meet clinical goals, hospice focuses on comfort and support, not only for patients but for their families as well. Our clinicians are experts at keeping patients comfortable through symptom and pain management, but hospice is more than just physical care.
When members of our team visit patients and their families they are sharing a part of a journey, providing not only medical care but spiritual and emotional support as well.
For 102-year-old patient Helen, sharing her experiences through her stories helps her connect with SSM Health at Home’s clinical staff, our volunteers and her caregivers.
Helen is used to telling her stories. She was a speaker at the sesquicentennial in New Glarus detailing her family’s history there; her grandfather was one of the founders of the city. A few years ago she was interviewed for a Wisconsin State Journal story about riding out the summer heat wave of 1936 by sleeping on the Capital Square to keep cool.
She talks about her father and mother. How her father would warm blocks of Limburger cheese on the block of his truck, traveling to Switzerland with her mother to visit her grandfather, and watching the annual Cheese Days parade ride past the house where she grew up.
She shares memories of growing up with her brothers, all three of them, and their antics. She remembers her days as a schoolgirl in Monroe, walking to school with her girlfriends and laughing at her classmates’ pranks.
She fondly recalls meeting her husband Walter at the skating rink. He was a pilot and would buzz her parent’s house with his biplane. She talks about the first time she went flying with him, how she was scared to tell her parents because she knew they would be worried.
She tells tales of working at the Swiss Colony as a young married woman. Then later she talks about shopping in Chicago for the fashions sold at the women’s clothing store she owned and operated in Brodhead in the 1950’s.
She reminisces about her 100th birthday party only a few short years ago. Her only living brother, who traveled all the way from California to attend, hid a hundred dollar bill in her purse to surprise her, an old family tradition her father started with her mother.
She speaks about her caregivers, her son and daughter, her four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She remembers her granddaughter who comes to dance for her and the SSM Health at Home music therapist who comes to see her and play songs that she once played on the piano.
These stories are just brief moments from a long and rich life. We have cared for many hospice patients over the past 29 years, each on their own unique journey with their own special stories to tell. SSM Health at Home was honored to be part of their journeys just as we are honored to have been part of Helen’s.