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In early December friends and coworkers of Kate Lounsbury gathered on the Bainbridge Island Ferry to remember and celebrate her life. The Bainbridge ferry paused briefly as friends released Kate’s ashes.  Kate battled large B Cell Lymphoma for several months before exercising her right to Death With Dignity under Washington’s 2008 law. With assistance from Compassion and Choices, she died peacefully at home among friends on October 26, 2013.
[caption id="attachment_1735" align="alignleft" width="229"]Kate, second from left, with friends from the dance world Kate, second from left, with friends from the dance world[/caption] Last October before our coworker Kate Lounsbury died of lymphoma she asked this blogger to write about her choice to use Washington’s Death With Dignity law to acquire legal aid in dying. Kate hoped it would promote wider public understanding. Before writing, I spoke with coworkers and friends and asked for their perspectives on Death With Dignity. Many had voted for Initiative 1000 which established the law with a 58.6% margin in 2008. All said they’d vote the same way again today. That was clear. But some expressed conflict about the actual act it legalized---aid in dying. Would I make that choice? they wondered aloud. How would I feel when someone I loved made that choice?! I think many people experience similarly unsettled emotions. Some are conflicted or opposed ideologically or because of religious faith. Complicating our feelings is the fact that death is rarely discussed in our culture and is hard to imagine. In that, Kate’s view differed from us all. She didn’t have comfortable distance from imminent death. She knew her life would end-- painfully-- and, understanding that, she was unwavering in her determination to choose the manner in which she left this world and her beloved friends behind.

    Wondering what to do this weekend? Drink, dine, and enjoy good company  in Georgetown at  The Healing Center's Oktoberfest fundraiser. The Healing Center, a grief support community in the Roosevelt/Ravenna district, provides group and individual services for adults, teens, and children whose lives have been...

[caption id="attachment_1753" align="alignleft" width="140"]Dan and Ann Streissguth Dan and Ann Streissguth[/caption] “My wife is full of life; full of happiness and joy,” Dan Streissguth confided to me when Ann rose to prepare coffee and snacks for our meeting. On her return they shared their inspiring story of partnership, devotion to community, and the development of Streissguth garden. It began with Dan’s first sight of Ann in the garden next door. “She was a young assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine,” Dan reminisced. He was already a well-established local architect and admired professor of Architecture at the University of Washington. Ann was new to the neighborhood but Dan had been living alone in his 4 story house for eight years. Through the foliage of their opulent backyard gardens, plants were admired, conversations began, and now, 46 years later, Dan relays his still delighted surprise with the exclamation, “I married my next door neighbor!”
EW archEW blue 1EW wave Does spiritual essence stay the same despite physical or cognitive changes? That’s a deep question, isn’t it? We may wonder things like this when faced with serious physical decline or a loved one’s advanced dementia. How can we reach someone we once knew? Sandy Sabersky, founder of Elderwise, Seattle’s innovative day program for people living with early to mid-stage dementia, based her program on certainty that essence does stay the same. Programs are geared to access wholeness and essence through intuition, imagination, and inspiration. That core philosophy, called “Spirit Centered care,” drives the unique and nurturing day program and its exciting community partnerships. [caption id="attachment_1661" align="alignleft" width="151"]Don paints amaryllis Don paints amaryllis[/caption]
Are you a family caregiver for someone living with Parkinson’s Disease? Do you know about the “Caregivers Day Off” program? Caregiver’s Day Off, sponsored by the Washington Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, serves families coping with Parkinson’s in King, Pierce, Snohomish, Skagit, and Island counties. With A Little Help is proud to be one of three local home health agencies trusted to support and serve Parkinson’s family caregivers through the program which sponsors 20 hours of free professional care annually.
Dementia strikes an alarming number of people in King County. According to a King 5 report, in late 2012, over 150,000 people locally have Alzheimers or Dementia. King County’s population was just over 2 million in 2013. That's an incidence of approximately 1 in 7 which is why most of us know someone who has dementia or someone who worries about memory loss. Medicine is still trying to understand how to delay, halt or predict dementia. We can’t cure it but we may be able to reduce our risk up to  50% by taking physical and mental steps toward more robust health.
Watching members of our families struggle to function at home either because of illness or aging can cause stress and worry because, unfortunately, houses have been built with only healthy residents in mind. Today the concepts of Aging in Place and Universal Design are revolutionizing the way we build and adapt our houses adding features that are flexible with our changing needs. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="154"] Gerry Cherney[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1571" align="alignleft" width="170"]Shawn D'Amelio Shawn D'Amelio[/caption] With A Little Help’s Director of Business Development, Shawn D’Amelio, is serving as 2014 Conference Chair for the Washington Home Care Association (WAHCA) formerly known as Washington Private Duty Association (WAPDA). In her role D’Amelio will plan and organize the annual WAHCA conference, Blooming with the Boomers, September 16 and 17, 2014 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. “I’m excited to serve as Conference Chair,” D’Amelio said. “Serving in this role is a wonderful learning opportunity for me and I have been blessed with a Conference Committee that brings a great deal of knowledge about home care and our industry as a whole.” The Washington Home Care Association (WAHCA) is a 9 year old organization active in education, support and advocacy for best practices and industry standards that govern businesses providing Private Duty Home Care in Washington State. WAHCA member agencies such as With A Little Help are all licensed by the Washington State Department of Health. Their caregiving teams pass background checks and are licensed, bonded, trained and supervised.