Mike Mayer has been a resident of Las Vegas for over 30 years. He operates Abbott Trophies, a shop that he has owned for 10 years. Earlier in his career, he worked in emergency medicine and years later, when he felt the “calling” to be a volunteer, contacting Nathan Adelson Hospice just seemed right.
Volunteering every Monday evening at Nathan Adelson Hospice’s Tenaya Inpatient Facility for the past four years, Mike humbly refers to it as his “attitude adjustment day.” He said, “I may have a busy week and feel frustrated but on Monday evenings, I deal with patients and family members who have really serious issues they are coping with. At Nathan Adelson Hospice, I feel like I am working on a stage crew for God – just doing what I can to help.”
One of the patients Mike remembers helping was an elderly woman who had Alzheimer’s Disease. She liked to walk around the inpatient facility, and the staff needed someone to make sure she was safe. Mike volunteered to walk with her. He walked with her in her room and the hallways for hours. He said “I would go home totally exhausted those nights.” The woman was unable to speak coherently, but she expressed many emotions on their walks. Mike said, “Sometimes she cried and the best way to help her was just to provide a hug.”
Another patient Mike spent time with was a man whose partner lived far away and was not able to visit every day. Mike said, “I just sat with him and let him talk. He had no visitors and wasn’t religious, but he liked to talk. He also liked to smoke so I would take him outside to the smoking area and stay with him. It’s the little things that can make a big difference to people.”
When Mike’s own father became very ill, he was suffering from uncontrolled pain. Mike and his brother asked the doctor, “When will our dad be eligible for hospice?” The doctor responded, “Oh, he would be more than eligible now.” Mike said, “Within 36 hours, the hospice staff adjusted his medications and my father was able to eat, and have visitors. These were things he was unable to do prior to hospice because of his pain. We only wish we had asked about hospice sooner. The hospice nurses explained everything to us and the certified nursing assistant was our dad’s favorite person. It was incredible.”
Mike is saddened by how some hospice patients become isolated because people are afraid to talk about end of life in general. He said of his own volunteer work, “Patients need people around them. It’s not glamorous or exciting, but I think it’s something people need. And, the people I work with, the staff at Nathan Adelson Hospice, I’m willing to do anything to help them. They are a group of wonderfully caring people.”