It Is About Time: The Basics
Introduction Time is a precious commodity that we, like the air we breathe, take for granted until we recognize how rapidly it can slip away. Quality of life is never more important than when we, or people we love, enter their final years. This is the time to take stock of just how we choose to spend those years. Quality of life is an attitude as well as a choice. I am offering guidance toward improved quality of life for people in their later years. This is based on my many years of experience as a hospice nurse. In providing support and information for my patients and their families, the most frequent comment I have received is: 'I wish we had known this a long time ago'. This information is valuable long before it is time for hospice care. What I teach makes perfect sense once you have an understanding of aging and dying as a process of diminishing energies coupled with the body's natural tendency to conserve and prioritize those energies. My teachings, however, do require that my clients are willing to make adaptations based on realistic expectations and goals. It is my belief that quality of life can be greatly enhanced by working towards two broad goals: conserving energy and reducing anxiety. Decreased physical energy is a natural result of aging; however, energy can be conserved in a multitude of ways: controlling pain and other physical symptoms, modifying the home environment and social adaptation can help minimize needless draining of limited energy resources. The remedies for worries and anxieties are information and decision making. Facing the final weeks and months of life can be frightening. Knowing what to expect and understanding this natural process can greatly reduce the anxieties inherent in facing the unknown. The best time to learn navigation is not in the middle of a storm. I can help you prepare for the predictable changes and teach you how to maintain comfort and dignity throughout this time. I can help you find comfort and reassurance in the middle of this storm. Kirsten Kaae, RN, BSN, LPC, M.Ed Professionally Kirsten Kaae has been serving the needs of the terminally ill and their families in Denton County since 1987 when she started her career as a hospice nurse with Ann's Haven Hospice. She earned her baccalaureate degree in nursing from Texas Women's University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1983. Her master's degree in counselor education from the University of North Texas was completed in 1987. Ms. Kaae has pursued extensive post graduate work in child and family therapy and rehabilitation. She holds dual licensures as a registered nurse and as a licensed professional counselor. In addition to her dedication to palliative care, Ms. Kaae served as the coordinator for SafeHaven, a grief support program for grieving children and their families instituted by Ann's Haven Hospice in 1992. Ms. Kaae is frequently called on by local groups and organizations to speak on a variety of topics relating to her fields of expertise. She is also a regular guest lecturer at both Texas Woman's University and University of North Texas. In 2008, Kirsten was honored to be the recipient of the Oncology Nursing Society Foundation's Pat McCue Palliative Care Nursing Career Development Award. On a Personal Note. I was born and raised in Denmark, immigrating to the United States at the age of eighteen and later became a naturalized citizen. I have been a resident of Denton, Texas for more than 30 years. I still have family in Denmark: my mother who is ninety plus years, my daughter Jennie, her husband, and my two grandsons as well as siblings and nephews. End-of-life care, though immensely rewarding, can be heavy on the heart. My work has heightened my appreciation for life and for living and made me conscious of the need to create and maintain balance in my life. I lift my spirit with music and dance. I find peace tending my garden and being close to my animals and I share joy and laughter with people who are dear to me. I have an amazing group of wonderful friends whom I treasure.