Hospice program for English speaking expats offers hope

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PHR offers a helping hand to elderly expat.

PHR offers a helping hand to elderly expat.

With the start of 2014, the Panama Hospice and Respite Foundation (PHR) opens its services to the English speaking expat community. Seeking to serve the needs of the aging retirees who have immigrated to Panama over the years, the PHR provides care and support to terminally ill clients and their families free of charge.

Many retirement age individuals and couples are making the move to Panama due to the affordable cost of living, warm climate, modern medical services and easy immigration process. With this population continuing to age, some are finding that services for homecare, chronic illness and end-of-life care, particularly in English, are very limited. Living in any country other than your native land can be challenging and even more so if the language spoken is not your mother tongue. Even if you are relatively fluent in Spanish, the legal and insurance fields are full of nuances that need professional explanation. The Foundation will provide help navigating the procedures and problems when an expat dies in Panama and offer support for their families.

To this end a Buddy Connection system is being created. This is a community outreach initiative program designed for singles and couples who do not have a designated person to be contacted in Panama should an emergency arise. The foundation will update and maintain this buddy database as well as put people who wish to establish a buddy as an emergency contact in touch with each other. Buddies will be trained on procedures for monitoring and helping each other. A database of blood donors is also being compiled for the benefit of members.

The foundation will also offer short term care to those requiring assistance after a temporary illness or traumatic event such as surgery. Program volunteers will be able to provide members with such aid as grocery shopping, meal preparation, pet care, transport of home care supplies and care-giver relief.

Marciana Wilkerson, Karen Barnett, Marilyn Johnson, Dorothy Payne, Toni Sanchez, Joy Schaffer, Joyce Perrin, Liz Waring.

Marciana Wilkerson, Karen Barnett, Marilyn Johnson, Dorothy Payne, Toni Sanchez, Joy Schaffer, Joyce Perrin, Liz Waring.

The Hospice and Respite Care Foundation is a non-profit organization modeling itself after the successful Boquete Hospice Program (www.boquetehospice.com) serving the expat community in Chiriquí. As the PHR offers its end-of-life and other services free of charge, volunteers are being sought for clerical and other duties, including equipment transport. Monetary donations are being accepted, as well as donations of pre-designated home care items.

The Foundation is holding its inaugural seminar on Tuesday, January 21, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. at Excedra Books on Via Brasil. Registration for the event takes place at 9 a.m. on site and cost to attend is $20. Intended as an information session designed for the English speaking expat, the seminar will cover topics such as health and medical insurance, legal documentation, estate planning, advanced directives and general medical information. Further details on the services the foundation provides will be given and attendees will have a chance to participate in a Q&A with a panel of experts. A coffee, tea and snack break will be provided.

For more information on the Panama Hospice and Respite Foundation and its upcoming seminar please visit their website at www.panamahospiceandrespite.org, write to pchospicerespite@gmail.com or call 6092-2884.

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