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Resourcefulness Leads to Mobile Dental Care for Ella

blue flower illustrationHaving caregivers come to you, where you live, is one of the core benefits of hospice care, especially for patients who are living with dementia. But what happens when the care a patient needs can’t happen at home?

That’s when we have to be a little more resourceful.

A health downturn in February 2021 led Ella Braun’s family to enroll her in hospice care with Agrace. A care team began visiting Ella regularly at her assisted living apartment in Madison, which was a huge help to Ella’s family—especially her daughter Cindy Hasz, who visits daily to feed her mom.

Rebecca Johnson, RN and Victoria Lange, CNA

Rebecca Johnson, RN and
Victoria Lange, CNA

Agrace RN Rebecca Johnson had been Ella’s hospice nurse for several months when Cindy noticed her mom was putting her fingers into her mouth. “Because of her dementia, it’s difficult for her to express pain,” Cindy explains. “So, I asked Rebecca to look. She’s not a dentist, but she could see that a tooth had an abscess. And she is always willing to go the extra mile when something is wrong.”

Rebecca called Affordable Dental Care, a Madison nonprofit that serves uninsured and at-risk dental patients: “I explained that Ella was a hospice patient, bedbound, and we would not be able to bring her in. I asked if Dr. Kepler ever saw patients at a facility, and she does not. They said they would see if there was a mobile dentist available and call me back.”

Rebecca and Cindy talked about care choices if Ella’s tooth could not be pulled. But soon, says Rebecca, “I got a call back from Affordable Dental Care, and Dr. Kepler offered to come out to Ella’s facility and remove the tooth—for free!”

“We could not believe she would be so kind as to do that,” Cindy remembers. “I think Rebecca must have been very convincing on the need for my mom to have this done.”

Planning Ahead for Relaxation, Relief

Patient Ella with Dr. Kepler

Cindy, Ella and Dr. Chelsea Kepler

“Rebecca planned her weekly visit to be here when the dentist was here,” Cindy explains. “We were concerned about how my mom would react: She could have been uncooperative, not understanding what was going on. Her CNA, Victoria, also came over just prior to the dental appointment and gave her a very thorough bath, with lotion. She was very relaxed when the dentist arrived. The timing of her regular meds, right before that, worked well, too. Everything worked in perfect harmony.

“I don’t think it could have gone any better. Dr. Kepler was very skilled and very compassionate about her care. My mom did not seem to be bothered by it at all, and that was amazing—that it went so well!

“Even though this was something new for Rebecca, she was determined to find a solution, to help my mom and provide comfort, which I know you guys are all about.”


pink and blue flowers illustration

Agrace’s First Giving Day is April 6

A 24-hour Giving Challenge to Sustain Care, Support, Hope and Healing

If someone you know needs hospice or supportive care, Agrace will be here for them, even if they have no way to pay. You can turn to Agrace for hope and healing after the death of a loved one, because our community grief support is open to everyone.

That’s why we’re holding our first-ever Agrace Giving Day on Wednesday, April 6, to ensure people who are aging, seriously ill, dying or grieving can receive the care they deserve. This is a special day for donors, community partners and volunteers—like you—who believe in Agrace’s quality care to share support.

On April 6, visit Agrace.org/GivingDay to see our progress, hear stories of what your support makes possible and make a gift. We hope we can count on you, because your gift—of any size—will sustain exceptional care for Agrace’s patients, families and clients.

agrace giving day hand and heart icon
Help make Agrace Giving Day a success:
  1. Share with family, friends and colleagues that April 6 is Agrace Giving Day, and we all can make a difference.
  2. Make a gift! Remember, gifts of any size matter.
  3. Share your Agrace story on social media using the hashtag #AgraceGivingDay.
  4. Show your support: “I am making a gift because …”
  5. Share posts from our Agrace Facebook and Instagram accounts to yours.

Agrace Giving Day helps us see what happens when we work together for something we believe in. Thank you for your support!


Giving Agrace a Voice in National Hospice Policy

Lynne Sexten photo

Lynne Sexten, President &. CEO

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Medicare hospice benefit—the groundbreaking national model for end-of-life care. Hospice has seen tremendous change in the decades since, including the rise of for-profit hospices and payment reforms that threaten the viability of many small, long-time providers.

As one of the largest, strongest nonprofit hospices in the country, Agrace needs to have a seat at the table to advocate for the rural, isolated and underserved patients and families who need our care.

That’s why I recently joined the board of directors of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). NHPCO is the nation’s largest membership organization for those who care for people affected by life-limiting illness. I will use this platform to make our experience part of the dialog on national policy decisions.

In a time of ever-present change, know that we are fighting so quality, compassionate hospice care—like we provided to Ella, Barbara and Betty in this issue—remains available to everyone.

flowers illustrationSincerely,

Lynne Sexten
President & CEO


SAGE Training Improves Care for LGBT Elders

sage care logobirdhouse bird and flowers illustrationLGBT elders who use Agrace’s services can feel confident knowing we’ve earned SAGECare Platinum Certification for 2022. At least 80 percent of our staff have completed SAGE’s cultural competence training about the needs of the LGBT community and the health care disparities they face. Agrace pursued this training because we are committed to equity—and to learning how to make each older patient and client feel comfortable while in our care.


Agrace Thrift Store

Try Thrift Store Volunteering: Have Fun while You Do Good!

2021 had its ups and downs, including a downward trend in volunteering. For Agrace, this setback means our need for volunteers is greater than ever before. We could really use more support at our clean, bright thrift stores—especially our Home Store in Madison and our Janesville store.

Since our first thrift store opened in 2006, sales from all our stores have raised more than $3.9 million to support Agrace programs and services! It takes many—mostly volunteer—hands to help make our stores some of the best bargain-shopping stops in the area.

Volunteering at an Agrace thrift store is fun! In a time when finding safe social outlets is hard, thrift-store volunteering is a terrific way to connect with people. You may volunteer with a friend—or make new ones along the way. Many lasting friendships have started at our stores.

Training is easy and available online. Scheduling is as easy as committing to the shift that works best for you. You can even try a shift to see if it’s right for you. Our dedicated thrift store managers will work with you to make a great fit.

thrift store starsMore volunteers are needed at all four stores. If you know someone who’s looking for a fun, safe and meaningful way to connect with others and Agrace’s mission, contact us today! Apply here, or visit one of our stores to learn more from our friendly staff.


Six Ways to Show You Care When Others Are Grieving

By Jessie Shiveler, manager of community grief support

  1. showing grieving loved ones careSay something. Even if it’s “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here.” Acknowledging grief is a powerful show of support.
  2. Note important dates. Don’t let the griever feel their person has been forgotten. Say, “I know the anniversary of your sister’s death is next week, and I am thinking of you.” Or, “I know today would have been your 20th anniversary. Would you like to get together for coffee or dinner this weekend?” Or “I know you would have spent today with [special person]. I hope it’s a gentle day for you.”
  3. Offer to do a specific task. Rather than, “Let me know how I can help,” which puts the burden on the griever, offer something specific. “I am going to the store; what can I pick up for you?” Or “Can I stop by today and take your dog for a walk?”
  4. Check in again—weeks, months, even years later. People often stop checking in on grievers, leaving them to feel no one cares or remembers, and that they “should be all better.” Schedule check-ins on your phone or calendar to contact them periodically.
  5. Keep inviting them, and give them an “out.” “Would you like to come to the play with us? You can change your mind at any time.” Or “You’re welcome to come back to book club anytime. I will keep calling you each month unless you ask me not to. We’d love to see you when you’re ready.”
  6. Tell them about Agrace’s grief support. In-person and virtual support options are available for anyone grieving a death. They can choose 1:1 meetings if they prefer not to join a group. Options are listed at Agrace.org/GriefSupport or call (608) 327-7110 for details.

betty in the pool

yellow flowersBetty Takes One More Lap

At 101, Betty wanted to go swimming one more time.  A retired UW-Madison physical education and kinesiology professor, she was once an intercollegiate breaststroke champion in her native Canada. With some help from Capitol Lakes in Madison and the Agrace Wish program, Betty was able to swim six (!) laps in a warm water pool, accompanied by Agrace RN Ben and her Agrace social worker, Michele.

country musicians sing and play guitar for barbaraWish Taps into Country Music Memories

Barbara was an Agrace Hospice Care patient and a country music fan. So it was no surprise that her desire to meet country superstar Alan Jackson found its way to the Agrace Wish Committee. Fate intervened when Gary McAdams agreed to come and play for Barbara. Having shared a stage with Alan in the past, Gary and fellow musician Steve Peck played many of Barbara’s favorite songs—bringing tears, smiles and laughs.


Upcoming Events

race for agrace logoJune 5: Race for Agrace, Madison

Race for Agrace is happening sooner this year! The 2022 race takes place Sunday, June 5, beginning at Agrace’s Madison-area campus. You can walk or run with us in-person or virtually—anytime and anywhere you choose. A celebration at the finish line will feature live music and food. This year’s registration fee is just $10; we are asking that each participant raise $100 to receive a race t-shirt. All proceeds support programs offered through the Agrace Grief Support Center.

Join Us


brickwalk and butterfly memorialsHonor Your Loved Ones with a Tribute at Agrace

Personalized Bricks and Butterflies Available Now

You can pay tribute to someone who has touched your life with an engraved butterfly or personalized brick at Agrace.

At the Butterfly Memorial trellises in the Agrace gardens in Janesville, visitors can enjoy sunshine and solace with nature all around. Order your engraved butterfly here by May 6, 2022.

watering can and flowers illustrationThe Memorial Brick Walk on our Madison campus encircles a small pond and fountain. It’s a peaceful setting to reflect and reminisce. Order your personalized brick here by June 3, 2022.

Each purchase directly supports Agrace’s mission. Reserve your tribute today at one of the links above, or call (608) 327-7180 for more details.