American Heart Month: Heart Disease Risks

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, approximately 84 million people in America suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease like heart disease. Heart disease can put an individual at risk for heart failure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5.7 million adults have heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscles can no longer pump effectively, and fluid builds up around the heart, abdomen, lungs and other parts of the body. Learn more about the other associated risks with heart disease, what you should do if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart failure and what you could be doing to plan.
Read more

When is it Time to Contact WV Caring for End-of-Life Care

At WV Caring, we believe contacting a hospice and palliative care provider for end-of-life services earlier rather than later is important. Starting care earlier can help patients provide the necessary medical care and manage the symptoms, emotional and spiritual needs throughout the life-limiting illness. Families and caregivers receive direct support by providing practical assistance, caregiver education, as well as provide essential understanding of their loved one’s wishes during what may be a stressful time. All of this to help the patient have the best quality of life for as long as possible.

Often, we are asked, “when is it time to contact WV Caring for end-of-life care services?” The simple answer is: any time someone is diagnosed with a serious illness or disease. It’s never too early to look at and understand hospice or palliative care options.

Learn more about the signs that a patient needs hospice or palliative care, what WV Caring can do to help and if you haven’t already–how to start the end-of-life care conversation.

Read more

When is it Time to Consider Hospice Care?

As Medicare’s first proven coordinated care model, hospice is a program that works. For decades, WV Caring has helped its patients and family’s transition through life-limiting illness. The goal is to provide comprehensive pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support while allowing them to spend valuable time together for as long as possible.

To learn more about hospice care, its benefits and when is it time to consider end-of-life care, please continue reading.

Read more

Driving Tips for Seniors

As we get older, driving becomes one of the challenges we have to face. At some point, seniors must turn in the key and retire from driving completely.

Before this stage, it’s important to drive as safely as possible and to be aware of your abilities to drive a car.

For instance, physical weakness from aging may affect checking blind spots, alertness and response times.

Learn more about safe driving tips for seniors and how to create a plan for driving safely.
Read more

What is the Difference Between Hospice Care and Palliative Care?

When a loved one is seriously ill, you want them to be the most comfortable and content they can be. Finding the best care to provide for their needs and conditions is important.

When researching care options for your loved one, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the medical terminology regarding different services available. Whether you are focused on finding a cure for your loved one or simply providing the best comfort for them possible, it’s important to be educated on the differences of hospice and palliative care. Read more

Grief and Loss Counseling: Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

Having to come to terms with a recent death of a loved one is hard. We are not here to say that it is easy. But, what we can say is you are not alone.

Through the many stages of grief, our grief and loss counseling and support groups are going to be with you every step of the way.


Grief and Loss CounselingAs someone copes with a recent death, they may experience feelings of loss, emotional distress and depression. It is common to feel sad, anxious and grief-stricken as day-to-day life begins to change. Moving forward isn’t easy, it takes time, and there is not a normal time period for a person to grieve.

Traditionally, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Many people don’t go through all of the stages, perhaps don’t go through them in the traditional order or may even feel more than one at once. And, that is okay. We are not here to “move you along.” We are here to help you in any way that we can.

  • Denial: The act of declaring something to be false. During a denial period, you may feel that your world is meaningless or that you are being overwhelmed. You can be in a state of shock and wonder what the right course of action to moving on might be.
  • Anger: A strong feeling of hostility. Feelings of anger can come up during this time. Being mad that you are losing or have lost a loved one is okay. Commonly, feelings of anger can be just the tip of the other emotions you’re feeling. Other emotions such as disbelief, guilt, sadness and shock potentially could come later. With a proper support community, you can get through those emotions.
  • Bargaining: If your loved one has died, it may be that you want it all to be a dream and ask to wake up.
  • Depression: At this level, you may come to terms that your loved one has died. And, this moment may seem as if it will last forever. You may want to withdraw from your daily life and not see anyone. It is okay to take time for yourself; however, it is important to keep yourself interacting with someone during this time.
  • Acceptance: Throughout these stages, we’ve discussed feeling overwhelmed, shock, sadness, guilt and anger. At this point, whenever you are ready, you can accept that your loved one has gone and begin to put your life in order.

It’s important to keep interacting with a support group during this time. Your support group can be there to share memories with you, to offer help with family duties and to just sit with you even when you don’t feel like talking.


Our grief and loss counseling services is a community-based program that provides grief and loss counseling throughout North Central West Virginia. We offer help and support to those who have experienced loss due to death or other life circumstances.


WV Caring invites you to attend a Memorial Service in remembrance of our patients and families. It is open to the public. All services begin at 6:30 p.m. Please select a location that is convenient to you, and bring a picture of your loved one for a table top display.

Thursday, October 11

Reedsville, Preston County

Mill Chapel United Brethren in Christ

6732 Kingwood Pike, Reedsville, WV 26547

Tuesday, October 16

Elkins, Randolph County

Woodford Memorial United Methodist Church

113 First Street, Elkins, WV 26241

Thursday, October 18

Morgantown, Monongalia County

Woodland United Methodist Church

1846 Mileground Rd. Morgantown, WV 26505


WV Caring’s grief and loss team can help you sort through the overwhelming and often conflicting feelings that bombard you when you least expect it. Our team includes trained and licensed bereavement social workers.

For more information on our grief and loss counseling or support groups, call: 1-800-350-1161.

The Elephant Got Bigger: Health Concerns Related to Advanced Illnesses

This is the second installment of my journey with my mother, the hospice care conversation and the health concerns related to advanced illnesses. In writing this, I hope that more people start the hospice care conversation with their loved ones earlier.

Read more

Tips to Aging Healthy

As you grow older, you change. Your body behaves in a way that it didn’t before. Don’t let these changes get you by surprise. You can live a full life, and enjoy it.

Aging healthy is important.

Learn more about how your body can change and what you can do to keep yourself aging healthy.

Read more

The Elephant in the Room: Having the Hospice Care Conversation

It is vital to everyone involved that your loved one who has an advanced illness gets the best care and support they need. Having the hospice care conversation can be tough, especially when it is started by other family members. A loved one may not think they need hospice care, even though they’ve experienced someone else in the same care.

I am Cindy Woodyard, vice president of public affairs at WV Caring, and this is the start of my journey with my mother into hospice care.
Read more


Advance care planning doesn’t need to wait for your golden years. In fact, at any age, a medical crisis could leave you too ill to make your healthcare decisions. For example, do you ever remember driving by the scene of a bad accident and saying, “I hope they are alright.” Then you might imagine if that were you; and, you were left unable to speak or make decisions. What would happen? Did you ever wonder who would speak for you about the care you would like to receive? If you don’t know, it’s time to start thinking about advanced care planning.

Usually it is a crisis or a major illness that prompts these types of discussions. However, it’s better to plan for a potential medical crisis or illness when you are well. Having that time to really think about the type of healthcare you would like to receive and what that would look like is important. What are the possible health problems that you could be faced with? Does heart disease or cancer run in your family? Considering the treatment options, would you want to live as long as you could utilizing every advanced treatment available, having life saving measures if your heart stops or would you want to just focus on comfort care if you were suffering from a lengthy, terminal disease.

It all depends on what matters to you and what is important to you. Whatever you decide an advance directive can help you and your loved ones make the right decisions for you.  And, these decisions can be very different from when you are young, in your mid-life or when you are elderly. Your advance directive can change as you age or when your health situation changes or if your viewpoint on end-of-life care changes.


It’s important to take the time to consider any number of situations that could happen to you and your family. Thinking about the ‘what-ifs’ now rather than the ‘coulda woulda of shoulda’ after the fact.

What would be important to you at end-of-life? Every person is different with their own set of personal values and situations. One may need to plan for a special needs child and ensure that they are taken care of – a place to live, a caregiver, enough finances to cover them for as long as they live. Another may want to be at home surrounded by loved ones with comfort care.  It’s all about what is right for you.

A good self-exercise is finishing the sentence that starts with: What matters to me at end of life is….

So, there are a lot of things to consider.  t’s important to start thinking and sharing your wishes for what kind of care you would like to receive at end-of-life with your loved ones before a medical crisis happens. These kinds of conversations can help to lay the groundwork for what would matter most to you if you should ever become unable to speak for yourself.

Talking about these things with your loved ones helps to make the difficult decisions easier when the time comes.  Most likely you will have several conversations over time.


 Taking the time to think everything through will make your conversation easier and better for everyone. There was a woman who invited all of her children over for cake and coffee.  While her grown children were sitting around the table she proceeded to tell them her wishes when she was at the end of her life.  She went through everything from not wanting CPR to the dress and jewelry she wanted to wear at her funeral.  She was able to inform her children of her wishes and what she expected them to do when she became too ill to care for herself and when she died.  This elderly mother took control of her wishes and orchestrated the ‘talk’ to make it easier for her children and to ensure her wishes would be followed.

But that is just one example.  There are other things to consider including:

  • Who do you want to talk to? Your spouse, children, friend, caregiver, pastor
  • What if your wishes are not the same as your husband and family?
  • Who would be the right person to carry out your wishes? Would it be your eldest child, or would it be your daughter who you know will respect your wishes, even if she disagreed.
  • Where should the talk take place? Pick a location that would be best for you.  It can be as simple as at your kitchen table or at your place of worship.
  • When should you talk to your doctor?
  • When is the right time to talk – now or on the next visit home?

Procrastination is easy to do; but, it is risky when you or your loved one has a progressive illness.  Just know that it always seems too early until it is too late.

And what should you talk about?

Should you break it down and talk about different topics at different times? Healthcare treatments for your disease? Finances? Where would you prefer to die?

Here are other questions to consider depending upon your situation:

  • What will make you feel ready to have this conversation?
  • Do you have any concerns you want to bring up?
  • What will be most important to you at the end of life?
  • How involved in treatment do you want your healthcare provider to be?
  • How long should you receive medical care?
  • How involved do you want any or all of your loved ones to be?

You can also download our end-of-life care conversation kit to get started with these questions.

Let's Talk Campaign

There are a few things to remember:

  • Having the conversation can be hard because you and your loved ones may disagree on a lot of different things.
  • It’s okay to talk several times with your loved one about this. It’s not a one-time deal.
  • It’s okay to be nervous to talk about the end of your life, which can be difficult for you; but, for others too.

When it comes time to have the conversation with your loved ones, think about who you want to talk to, when is the best time to have the talk, where you’ll be most comfortable and what do you actually want to say.


Many people hesitate to talk about their end-of-life care decisions because they don’t want to think about what could happen to them.  However, it’s very important to not wait. This can cause confusion amongst family members and even your healthcare provider.  By putting it off, the delay may result in a crisis for everyone.

To start the conversation, you could start by asking your loved one to help you with something or start with, “Even though I am okay right now, I am worried about ______ and want to be prepared in case of an event.”

A few things to remember as you are having this talk:

  • Patience is key. It’s hard to think about a loved one’s death, especially when they are sitting right in front of you.
  • This conversation is meant to have the ability to change. As you talk with your loved one more, your decisions may change.
  • End the conversation when you feel it’s time. This is one of many conversations you should be having about your end-of-life care decisions. You don’t have to cover everything.


Betsy Pyle lost her husband, Jamie Pyle, an associate dean for medical education. Betsy and Jamie were smart.  They researched, planned ahead for as much as they could and took the rest as it came along.  Their journey was much easier on them because they embraced what they were facing and went forward.  Jamie was able to set goals, like writing his book and seeing his son graduate before his death.  That’s the power of advance directives and planning ahead.

Here’s their story

In 2008, Jamie commented on how he felt his gate had changed. He found himself trapped in the course of just walking around. After contacting a neurologist, and a year of appointments, Jamie received an ALS diagnosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“It’s always hard to lose somebody you love. When you are faced with having to walk down that path, to have the support of West Virginia Caring definitely helped my family experience the things we went through as we lost my husband,” Pyle said.  “People should open their arms to hospice care much sooner. Hospice care is really about living life to the fullest while you’re alive and not focusing on the end of life.”

Watch more of Betsy’s story below.


WV Caring believes that it is important to start the end-of-life care conversation early so in the event of an accident or medical crisis, you know who is speaking for you.

If you need someone to talk to about you or a loved one with a life-limiting illness, visit our website at: or give us a call: 1-866-656-9790.