Tell Us Your Story

Care partners at Hospice of Dayton and Hospice of Butler & Warren Counties go above and beyond to invest in each patient and consider his or her time with us to be a celebration of life. It’s our goal to help you cement your loved one’s legacy by embracing his or her life story and presenting it to others. Please, share your loved one’s life story with us today. We believe that illustrating life’s stories provides peace of mind for families while strengthening our community.  Contact 937-256-4490 ext. 4409 or fill out the form below to share your story today.

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How Hospice Helps Heart Patients

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Lynda & Marianne 37People may be surprised to learn that 28% of Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton’s patient population has a diagnosis of cardiac disease. The most recent American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association heart failure guidelines now recommends palliative/hospice care referral for end-stage heart failure.

Patients with heart disease can experience ups and downs over a long course of the disease. The following signs may indicate that hospice care could help.
o Increasing frequency of hospitalizations for worsening symptoms
o Increasing fatigue and shortness of breath with minimal activity or at rest, despite medication
o Surgery or use of device therapy is no longer an option or is not desired
o Increasing dependence on oxygen therapy or need for increased flow

By working with the patient’s cardiologist, hospice and palliative care specialists have the tools and resources to relieve symptoms, improve patient satisfaction, and decrease the cost of care for patients. Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton collaborates with cardiologists in the region to use proactive interventions to monitor patient symptoms and quickly address issues as they develop and change.

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton offers support to address a wide range of symptoms.
o Respiratory therapy to manage shortness of breath
o Medications and therapies to ease pain and hypertension
o Medical equipment and therapies to counteract weakness and fatigue

Our nurses use telecommunication and information technologies to keep track of weight, respiratory status, emotional status and tolerance for activities. Close monitoring of patient condition and immediate attention to changes in condition help to prevent emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

The hospice team, family caregiver and patient together create an action plan that includes:
• Self-care strategies for patient
• Symptom recognition
• Medication education
• Recognition of caregiver needs

Patient caregivers play a vital role with cardiac patients, providing physical and emotional comfort and support, searching out resources, scheduling appointments and helping to manage symptoms. Our hospice nurses work closely with caregivers so they gain an understanding of the illness and develop skills to respond to changes in patient condition. Caregiver preparedness increases confidence and is a major factor in easing caregiver stress. Hospice care can also provide respite support so that caregivers can be relieved of what can sometimes seem like an overwhelming burden. This proactive approach assures a better quality of life for both the patient and the caregiver.

Information for caregivers or heart patients about hospice services is available by calling 937-256-4490.

World Cancer Day is Feb. 4, 2016

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World Cancer Day
For many, hospice is closely tied to cancer. It is true that cancer patients were among the first to benefit from hospice care. While hospice now serves patients with a wide variety of diagnoses, cancer patients continue to be among those who turn to hospice for help as their disease advances. At Ohio’s Hospice, 34 percent of our patients have been diagnosed with cancer. Hospice offers cancer patients improved quality of life and families support as loved ones decline.

When should hospice care be considered?

The following changes may indicate hospice could benefit the patient and family:

  • The patient is becoming weaker and the disease is progressing
  • Treatment is no longer effective
  • The burden of treatment is becoming overwhelming for the patient

Our staff of specialists

  • Keep patients comfortable with proactive pain and symptom management
  • Help assure smooth transitions when patient condition is changing and different services and levels of care are needed
  • Provide emotional and spiritual support

Maintain close monitoring of symptoms to respond quickly when changes in condition occur

For patient families, Hospice of Dayton

  • Provides caregiver education and training
  • A nurse consultant on call 24/7
  • Help and guidance with resources and support
  • Respite care when caregivers need a break
  • Emotional and spiritual support
  • Bereavement services and support

On World Cancer Day we encourage everyone to learn about cancer prevention. Visit this site to test your knowledge and learn more about 50% of cancers can be prevented.


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Dr. BharwaniAccording to, nearly 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia as of 2015. Many families try to care for their loved ones at home. Unfortunately, most caregivers lack the knowledge of how to help the patients and cope with this disease. An upcoming series of monthly educational sessions will focus on practical techniques for home caregivers to improve the quality of life for people with dementia (PWD) as well as reduce stress on the caregivers.

The sessions will take place at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton and will be presented by Dr. Govind Bharwani, a nationally recognized expert in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. He has received six national awards and his therapy program is used in nursing homes throughout the nation. It has helped reduce the use of medications for behavior management. Dr. Bharwani is the Co-Director of Ergonomics and Alzheimer’s Care at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. The program is sponsored by Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, Wright State University, and the Greater Dayton Brain Health Foundation. These educational sessions are offered at no cost to caregivers and there is no professional credit given to attend the program.

“One of the major challenges for home caregivers is to deal with the behavior problems of PWD” says Dr. Bharwani. He has successfully applied the science of cognitive ergonomics and neuroscience research to improve the quality of life for PWD in long-term care facilities nationwide. He also developed an innovative program for Alzheimer’s / dementia care which has received six national awards. The program is called Behavior-Based Ergonomics Therapy (BBET) program. Dr. Bharwani received the 2012 Leaders of Tomorrow Award from Long-Term Living magazine and the 2014 Public Service Award from the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA).

In these educational sessions, the success of BBET in nursing homes are shared with caregivers so that they can apply these techniques during the care of their loved ones at home. BBET uses the combination of music, video and stimulating therapies to reduce the mental stress on PWD. The therapies utilize the neuroscience approach and are customized based on the individual’s life story and cognitive level.

This is the second year that this series will be offered to home caregivers. In the new cycle, Dr. Bharwani will also discuss various types of dementias such as Lewy body dementia, frontal lobe dementia, Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia, etc. This will help the caregivers to understand how to care for their loved ones who have these kinds of dementias. In addition, Dr. Bharwani will also discuss the causes of behaviors by PWD such as wandering, combativeness, shadowing, sundowning, etc. This will complement the material covered in the first cycle.

Attendees receive practical information on Alzheimer’s and dementia and how caregivers can use the knowledge and techniques to help reduce the problems they face while caring for PWD. Tami Ashmore attended a previous session and found the course very helpful in her interactions with an Alzheimer’s patient. “Now I more clearly understand the changes I’ve seen over the past four or five years,” Ashmore says. “I have used many of the techniques suggested and found them very effective. Interactions are much more positive. There are fewer outbursts.” Ashmore also expressed surprise that the program is offered at no cost, thanks to the grant from the Greater Dayton Brain Health Foundation.

Beverly Louis registered for classes to better understand what her sister was experiencing as a dementia sufferer. “The classes were very helpful, especially in offering concrete suggestions on steps you can take to improve communication. I discovered that topics would arise in class that would parallel what was happening with my sister. I was learning as things were happening with her situation. I gained a lot.”

A new series of sessions is scheduled to begin on March 29th with monthly presentations focused on specific topics which are listed on the registration site located at For additional information, please contact Kathy Emerson at 937-256-9507, ext. 2237.

Celebrating Life Stories: Betsy Stavnitski

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Anyone who asks Betsy Stavnitski if she “used to be a nurse” will receive a quick response. “I am a nurse,” Betsy says proudly. Retired or not, Betsy will always be a perfect example of what a nurse should be.

Betsy graduated from nursing school in 1958 and immediately earned a role as an instructor for nursing students. When she became pregnant with her first child, she was dismissed from the job and informed “a pregnant nurse is not an acceptable instructor for students.” She shares the story wryly today, adding “Can you imagine? But that’s the way things were done then.”

Like many women of the era, Betsy did not return to nursing until her three children had grown. When her youngest son was a junior in high school, she completed a refresher course at Miami Valley Hospital. “It was wonderful,” she remembers. “I learned so much!” She joined the Miami Valley staff in orthopedics, transitioned to infection control and ended up managing the orthopedic team. For the next thirty years she gave her loyalty and love to “the Valley.” This year, Miami Valley and Premier Health returned her affection with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her career in nursing.   Her award notes that “Betsy strived to keep the patient and family 1st by leading compassionate and safe care….Many of us marvel at Betsy’s professionalism, spirit and direct communication skills. Betsy served with dignity, class and the utmost respect for the patient and the care team.” After retirement Betsy served as a volunteer, as a member of the Miami Valley Foundation Board and on other committees, extending her loyalty and contributions beyond the end of her nursing role.

Betsy is humble about her recent Premier honors, noting that her “colleagues on the floor work so hard, mentally, physically and emotionally.” Asked what has changed the most over the course of her nursing career, Betsy says “Technology. The art of nursing has not changed, but the science has.”


As any of her colleagues can tell you, when it comes to the art of nursing, Betsy is one of the Miami Valley’s finest artists.


Simple Ways to Celebrate Life

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Our mission is to celebrate and honor the lives of those we serve at end of life. On this day, we remind everyone to Celebrate Life.

It is easy to define our days by the worries, fears and problems that can consume our time and energy. Instead, we encourage everyone to make this day a focus on the joy and beauty we experience but often overlook. By Celebrating Life today, we can take the first step in a commitment to concentrate more everyday on the goodness, the grace and the gratifying opportunities we have that make life worth living. Celebrate Life today – and everyday.

Here are a few ideas for ways to make this day special.
Learn something new
-Start a new book
-Learn to cook or bake a new dish
-Sign up for a free class
-Try yoga, tai chi or meditation
-Start a journal or blog

-Play a game from your childhood
-Look at old photographs
-Reminisce with an old friend
-Enjoy music from your youth

-Ride a bike
-Play Frisbee

Express Appreciation
-Thank someone
-Send a friend a note or give them a gift
-List your blessings
-Make a donation of time or money to a worthwhile charity

Touch Nature
-Look into the face of a baby or older person
-Pet a dog or cat
-Go out for a walk in the rain or snow
-Go to an arboretum or a botanical garden
-Hunt for bird nests
-Look at the stars
-Plant a flower
-Watch the sunset
-Watch the sunrise

Connect or Reconnect
-Send a letter or email to your favorite teacher or mentor
-Make a call, send an email or video chat with an old friend
-Introduce yourself to someone you’d like to get to know

Pathways of Hope Offers Grief Support for Sudden Loss

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Hospice_3_1_13-102When someone dies suddenly from an accident, unexpected or traumatic death, loved ones can experience shattering grief. With no opportunity to prepare for the loss, say good-bye or resolve unfinished business, family and friends can experience shock, depression, fearfulness, anxiety, anger, guilt and hopelessness. These same responses may apply whether the sudden death was the result of disease, drug overdose, accident, homicide, suicide or natural disasters. Pathways of Hope at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton is launching an on-going grief support group for the survivors of such situations. Bereavement Counselor Debbie Holt, MS, PCC-S, will lead the group.

“The trauma of losing someone suddenly can also come with major additional losses,” says Holt. “Sometimes survivors may have also experienced injury as the result of circumstances leading to their loved ones death. They may be left with survivor guilt, wondering why they are still alive and questioning what could have been done to prevent the tragedy. If the death resulted from violence, the grieving experience may be prolonged by the search for a suspect and lengthy legal procedures. Grief can be especially difficult on the family if the killer is not identified or arrested and goes unpunished. Some families and loved ones may also experience a major loss of income, or their home. Their grief can be complicated by a multitude of other factors.”

Sudden Loss Grief Support Sessions will be held the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, starting January 27, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm in the Community Room at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, 324 Wilmington Ave., Dayton. For additional information please contact Pathways of Hope at 937-258-4991.

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton Receives $25,000 Check from WalMart

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2016-01-13 11.41.31Patient quality of life at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton received a $25,000 boost from WalMart today.

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton was one of several local non-profit organizations to receive grants from WalMart. The funds are earmarked for the Hope Fund which provides food, shelter, utility assistance and temporary housing to ensure families in the community receive the quality end of life care that they deserve. “The difference Walmart makes in giving back to our community shows the true spirit of being a servant to others,” says Lori Poelking-Igel, Executive Director of the Hospice of Dayton Foundation. “This generous gift of $25,000 will lighten the burden of another human being as they transition to the next chapter of their life, their end of life. Thank you for being part of that experience by enhancing the quality of living, not dying. Our Hope Fund enables us to alleviate stress for over 300 individuals who are faced with end of life challenges, but hunger, shelter and clothing won’t be one of them. Thank you for making this a reality for so many in need, and being partners in their journey.”

Additional information about the grant can be found online.

The Two Worlds of Remembering and Rebuilding

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By Lisa Balster, MA, MBA, LSW, CHA
Director of Care, Patient and Family Support Services
Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton/Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Center

At the Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Center, the professionals work to educate individuals about ways to think about the common phases of the human grief experience. Some phases can be quite detailed and tedious, as grief tends to be sometimes. Others are extremely simple. The simple construct of “Remember, Rebuild” is exquisite in its wisdom.

Working Through Grief is a Process 

When working through grief, we need to spend time remembering our loved one, and embracing the past. We also need to spend time focusing on the present, as well as on the future, as we rebuild our life without the person. Time in both worlds is needed and will help us to heal. It may seem as though grief keeps us purely in one world for a while, and that is okay. It is important to know that we can move to the other world at any time.

Pathways of Hope Grief Support is Here as a Resource 

The Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling staff includes Masters and Doctoral prepared counselors, whose life work it is to walk with you as you journey in these worlds. It is this journey that provides healing over time. We are privileged to serve any adult, child, or teen that has lost a loved one. Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Center, the professionals work to educate individuals about ways to think about the common phases of the human grief experience. Some phases can be quite detailed and tedious, as grief tends to be sometimes. Others are extremely simple. The simple construct of “Remember, Rebuild” is exquisite in its wisdom.

When working through grief, we need to spend time remembering our loved one, and embracing the past. We also need to spend time focusing on the present, as well as on the future, as we rebuild our life without the person. Time in both worlds is needed and will help us to heal. It may seem as though grief keeps us purely in one world for a while, and that is okay. It is important to know that we can move to the other world at any time.

The Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling staff includes Masters and Doctoral prepared counselors, whose life work it is to walk with you as you journey in these worlds.

It is this journey that provides healing over time.

We are privileged to serve any adult, child, or teen that has lost a loved one. Pathways of Hope is supported by the Hospice of Dayton Foundation, and we do not charge for grief support services. You can reach us by calling: 937-258-4991.

We look forward to spending some time with you this winter season. Best wishes for peace and joy in the New Year.

Camp Breakaway Flashback!

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Camp Breakaway is back on January 18, 2016! Families who have not yet registered children and teens (ages 7-17) can RSVP here:

Each year, Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton’s Pathways of Hope hosts “Camp Breakaway,” a one-day grief-focused program designed for children and teens who have experienced the loss of a significant loved one such as a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend, or other meaningful relationship in their lives.

This special program combines grief support in age-appropriate group discussion, art, and music, along with fun activities at the Kettering Recreation Complex like swimming and ice-skating. Over the years, grieving children and teens in the community have received support from peers as well as professionally trained, board-certified art and grief therapists.

Take a look at some of the fun activities Camp Breakaway kids and teens have participated in over the years, thanks to generous contributions from our community to support Pathways of Hope! Thank you Dayton for supporting superior care and services for our patients and their families. Learn more about Pathways of Hope grief support by clicking here.

To learn more details about 2016 Camp Breakaway and to register, please follow this link:

Art Therapy at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton’s Pathways of Hope

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The benefits of art therapy are well documented and praised across every age group, medical condition, and cultural demographic. Engaging in art therapy also enhances and encourages the grieving process. Through Pathways of Hope grief support, patients and their families at the Dayton Hospice House, as well as members of the public, may join informal art therapy programs to make art when talking about loss, uncertainty, and grief are difficult.

Some of the programs offered as art-based grief support include:

The Art Cart is a mobile cart full of art supplies and projects designed to enrich the lives of patients and their family members of all ages by providing life enhancing creative activity. Look for the Art Cart in the halls of the Dayton Hospice House on Thursdays and occasionally Sundays.

Drawn Together Open Studio is held at the Yeck Art Center and is designed especially for children and family members visitng patients at the Dayton Hospice House. This open studio program gathers on Wednesday afternoons.

The Art Forever After Group is a multi-generational art-based grief group that provides a place for individuals, friends, and family members to make art with others. This group meets in 3-month segments and is currently scheduled for Monday evenings September through November, and February through April.

Tribute Squares: An Art Response to a Sudden Death in a School or the Community is a special program designed to provide organizations and schools an art-based grief support in response to a sudden death in the community.

Art Groups for Camp Pathways and Breakaway: Youth weeklong and one-day only events have been geared toward group grief-support while kids and teens engage in fun activities.

For more information about all these programs and more, please contact Pathways of Hope at 937-258-4991, or email