Born and raised in Clarksville, TN, Elizabeth Armstrong is no stranger to death. After all, she grew up in a funeral home, which was the family business. She chuckled through a sweet southern accent, “We had a flower shop and ambulance service, when someone died, people came to us because we were a one stop shop.”
After three marriages and raising two daughters, Elizabeth is 78 years old and a newlywed. Gene, her husband, laughed, “I finally got her to marry me.”
Elizabeth’s health journey started in early 2018 when she was in and out of the hospital with pneumonia. After receiving home health care for two months and finding herself back in the hospital, it was the right time to discuss hospice. Hospice allowed Elizabeth to focus on quality of life and could provide her and her family with much more support. It wasn’t long after coming home from the hospital that Elizabeth and her family were sitting at a table with Dr. Venzaio, VNA hospice medical director, and Gloria, the clinical social worker. Elizabeth was delighted, “I was so happy. Everyone was getting to know each other; they gave each other their information to stay in touch. That was important since my daughters live out of state.”
Understanding how hospice can help others is important to Elizabeth. She stated, “You know, I want everyone to know this. Everyone thinks hospice just means you’re gonna die, there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Hospice helps you live your life. After the hospital I was so weak. It was wonderful knowing I was going to get the help I needed from people who really cared about me.”
Hospice is a unique service because it’s the only form of care that focuses on the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of a patient. Hospice helps patients with pain and symptom management and advocates for the patients’ end-of-life wishes and goals. Once physical, emotional and spiritual needs are addressed, patients can spend time doing what’s most important to them with the ones they love. Hospice also extends to family members as well through counseling, grief support and spiritual care.
Having elected hospice early, Elizabeth shared one of the benefits of being on hospice for an extended period of time, “Someone is always here for me, always.”
With home health aide visits three times a week, nurse visits once a week along with music therapy services, Elizabeth and Gene understand what it means to be in good hands.
The heart of hospice is compassion, reliability and trust. Speaking through happy tears, Elizabeth said, “Hospice is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s given me the best quality of life. I’m grateful for so much more than I can write. I’m surrounded by love.”