Bessie’s Hope is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit. all donations are tax deductible

Youth & Elders Program Feature – October 2019

Featured are some of the students who participated in our School-to-Career Work Force Development for Long Term Care this summer through the DPS CareerConnect program and through a DPS summer internship program.  The students received the Bessie’s Hope education on long term care: the reasons people are in long term care; the various levels of long term care; dementia; hearing and vision loss; and other physical conditions, such as stroke and diabetes. They also received training that enabled the volunteers to have comfortable and meaningful interaction with elders of all levels of cognitive functioning, including advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. 

The students participated in visits at two nursing homes, Briarwood Health Care Center and Cedars Health Care Center.  Bessie’s Hope staff facilitated the visits and introduced the students to staff members at the elder care homes.  The students received a presentation on the many jobs and career opportunities in elder care homes.  They also went to Argus Home Health Care Agency and received a presentation on the jobs and career opportunities within home health care.  In fact, two of the students filled out job applications at Argus. 

The students had the opportunity to shadow various positions within Briarwood, and three of the students participated in a six-week internship there.  One of the students chose to do her internship with Bessie’s Hope to participate in more administrative and marketing tasks and learning opportunities.

Learn more about how to get your youth or school group involved here.

Community & Elders Program Feature – October 2019

For a number of years, Bailey, talk show host on iHeart Radio KTCL Channel 93.3,  has partnered with Bessie’s Hope for her “Gifts for Grands” project.   Each year, shortly before Christmas, Bessie’s Hope provides Bailey with a list of first names of nursing home elders who never receive visitors and their Santa Wish Lists.  Bailey shares the lists with her listeners, and they sign up to provide gifts for the individual elders.  The listeners are invited to join Bailey and a Bessie’s Hope staff member to participate in a social gathering with the group of elders, after which the volunteers give the gifts to the elders.

This year, Bailey wanted to create multiple opportunities for her listeners to have the heartwarming experience of participating in a group visit at an elder care home.  Pictured are Bailey and some of the other volunteers who participated in a Bessie’s Hope training session and a group visit with elders at Chelsea Place.

Learn more about getting your business or community group involved here.

Family & Elders Program Feature – October 2019

Pictured are Blythe Dollar, Bessie’s Hope Program Coordinator, who is conducting a “placement” with volunteer, Andrea Goth.  They are visiting elders at Greenridge Place.  After volunteers participate in the Family and Elders Program orientation, they are introduced to a number of elders who have no one, or who are seldom visited.  This is the “placement”.  The volunteer may choose to adopt one person or to visit as many as possible upon each of his/her visits.

Our Family and Elders Program provides the opportunity for individuals or families to “adopt” an elder, or elders, who have no personal visitors.  This is such a rewarding experience.  Individuals always report that they felt they received more than they could possibly give, and it is a deeply fulfilling relationship with the elder.  Families report that it is such a meaningful experience for family members to share.  With everyone being so busy with their own interests, this is a time the family comes together to give of themselves.  Families have also said that it has made a positive difference in family dynamics.  Coming together to give love, just creates more love for everyone involved!

There are some interesting and appealing elements within this volunteer program.  You don’t have to have a schedule.  You drop in to visit, as you would a family member.  This is what the goal is—the relationship becomes like family and mutually rewarding.  Also, if you choose to not adopt just one or two elders, you can also choose to create your own “program” or project for many of the elders at the care home.  For example, you can provide nail polishing and hand cream for all the ladies who come to your own scheduled “spa” time.  If you do choose to create a group experience, it does have to be scheduled in advance.  If it’s an ongoing group activity, you can commit to every month, twice a month, weekly, etc.  Another example, you can choose to play the piano once a month.

For more information:

Click Here

Call Blythe Dollar at 303-623-2152 


Fill out the application to attend an orientation!

There Are Not Enough Personal Care Aides To Care For Frail Seniors. What Will We Do?

Howard Gleckman, Senior Contributor, Forbes (AND Bessie’s Hope solution below)

Workforce challenges have grown substantially over the last several years and health care providers will continue to see increasing staffing challenges, workforce shortages, wage and benefit costs, and employment law enforcement. To survive these changing dynamics and become more predictive in people strategies, health care providers will adopt a variety of workforce analytic technology. For example, regular employee pulse surveys for employee engagement or real-time labor management systems which allow staffing to be quickly and accurately adjusted on a per-patient-day (PPD) basis will become essential for managing labor costs and productivity

Health care organizations will also need to ensure deliberate talent acquisition strategies and an engaged workforce to increase employee retention, allowing them to better drive the level of quality, customer satisfaction, and financial performance. Due to the talent shortage, health care providers and even competitors will share staff and centralize back-office functions, allowing care centers to focus on what they do best – high quality patient care and service.

The role of leadership will be more important than ever. Developing cultures of continuous learning and ensuring an agile organization will be crucial with the changing demands of an organization’s shift to meet consumerism demands.

Post-Acute and Senior Care Asset Repurposing

From 2010 to 2017, the senior population aged 65 years and older increased nearly 26 percent, resulting in an increased need for senior care services. However, during this same time, the average daily census at skilled nursing facilities declined over four percent due to declines in utilization, length of stay, payment reform, alternative options, and client preference. Total licensed beds declined approximately one percent, and occupancy declined from 82 percent in 2010 to 79 percent in 2017. To adapt to the changing landscape, more SNFs will convert to senior housing alternatives, such as low-income or market rental apartments, specialized units like traumatic brain injury or mental health units, assisted living, or memory care assisted living, all of which have experienced increasing consumer demand.

The long-predicted shortage of personal care aides is here. And it is creating enormous challenges for frail older adults and people with disabilities living at home as well as for operators and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

This shortage inevitably will drive up costs for services that already are unaffordable for many consumers. They will increase financial pressures on Medicare and Medicaid and force older adults and others with disabilities to rethink how they receive care. At the same time, labor shortages will drive innovation and new technologies that could remake supports and services.

The US has known this was coming for years. As the aging population grew, the number of personal care aides to provide care at home or in nursing or assisted living facilities was not keeping up. But now the shortage is here.

A tight labor market

The long-term problem is all about demographics: The Baby Boomers are aging and, because they had relatively few children, there won’t be enough people of caregiving age—either relatives or paid aides– to help them. But even before we hit the demographic wall, the US is facing more immediate short-term problems.

The biggest may be the strong economy and the very tight labor market. The unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in October, the lowest in a half century. And with lots of other available jobs, it is increasing hard to recruit low-paid aides.

According to the advocacy and research organization PHI, home care workers earn a median wage of $11.03 an hour while nursing assistants in nursing homes earn $12.84 an hour. And their injury rates are among the highest of any occupation in the US.

By contrast, veterinary technicians make more than $16 an hour. A society that pays more to workers who look after pets than those who care for parents should not be surprised when people gravitate to easier and better-paying jobs.

How tight is the current market for direct care workers? The newsletter Home Health Care News reports that home care companies increasingly are requiring non-compete agreements that limit the ability of aides to move to other agencies or to work directly for their clients, who would then avoid paying the agency fees.

According to the newsletter, a lawyer who represents agencies said, “They don’t have enough of a labor force to satisfy their client demands.”

Regulatory answers

Government is looking to regulatory answers, including new rules to require higher staffing levels and more disclosure of facilities that are chronically short-staffed.

Last summer Jordan Rau of Kaiser Health News reported that many facilities have fewer staff than they report to the government. In response, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week that it would urge states to boost inspections in an effort to end the practice. At the same time, some states have moved to mandate specific minimum staffing rules for nursing homes. Last spring, the New Jersey legislature tried.

But requiring minimum staffing won’t solve the problem. Many nursing homes will respond to these mandates by closing beds or otherwise changing their business models. This is a particular problem in long-stay nursing facilities where wages are largely driven by Medicaid. It makes little sense for the government to demand facilities hire more staff if its payment rates won’t support a decent wage for the workers they have.

Home care

But nursing homes are only a small piece of the problem. Fewer than 10 percent of those who require long-term supports and services live in those facilities. About another 8 percent live in assisted living facilities, which are unregulated by the federal government. But more than 80 percent live at home. How will they find aides?


How about technology? It undoubtedly will help. Facilities increasingly will install devices to monitor the well-being of residents. And some gizmos even are finding their ways into private homes. But caregiving remains a high-touch personal job and we are a long way from the time when human caregivers are replaced by robots.

The bottom line is that the law of supply and demand ultimately will win out, as it always does. The only way to increase the supply of aides is to pay them more, give them more benefits, make their work more rewarding, and give them opportunities for advancement.

Bessie’s Hope has created a solution to help—-

Twenty-five years ago, Bessie’s Hope created a solution to help with the unimaginable statistic that 60% of nursing home elders receive NO personal visitors. The solution: Relationship-driven volunteer programs that provide education and training to volunteers from preschool to adult ages. With the training, and with Bessie’s Hope facilitating elder care group visits for adult groups and youth groups and assisting families and individuals to be matched with elders who have no one, hundreds of elders DO have someone—the Bessie’s Hope volunteer. Compassion, empathy and respect for the elders are key.

The solution to help with the work force shortage is one that introduces high school students to the vast array of jobs and career paths in long term care. This introduction comes only after the training, the participation in the group visits, and the demonstration from the youth that they have respect, compassion and empathy for the elders. In addition, they have the awareness that the elders are resources of vast knowledge and wisdom, with so much to teach all younger generations on so many levels. They have a fondness for the elders, and they genuinely enjoy their company. All of these qualities are essential to being a good elder care provider.

The youth may participate in the Bessie’s Hope School-to-Career Work Force Development for Long Term Care. See the page of the same name on

Community and Elders Program Feature ~ Kroenke Sports

The employees from Kroenke Sports, as well as Avalanche players, have participated through the years with Bessie’s Hope for their Community Service Days. There are usually enough volunteers choosing the nursing home option for their service that we have multiple elder care sites receiving the Kroenke Joy!

Bessie’s Hope is appreciative for having been selected as a choice for their community service days. Thank you Kroenke volunteers for sharing hugs, love, laughter with the wonderful elders!!

These volunteers, as in all the Bessie’s Hope programs, receive the orientation/training prior to the elder care visit, so as to have a better understanding of the population and environment. In this way, both the elders and the volunteers are assured a meaningful, successful interaction.

To get your own workplace, club, church, civic organization, or any other group involved to have your hearts filled knowing that you have made such a difference in the lives of forgotten elders, click on: Community and Elders Program



Dreams Can Still Come True ~ Ski the Slopes

Through the Bessie’s Hope Dreams Can Still Come True program, 103 year old, World War II-decorated Army nurse, May Alm, recently fulfilled a goal to ski the Colorado slopes! This magnificent woman served under General Patton, was in the Battle of Normandy and other historically renowned battles, received several battle medals, and is still quite the adventurer.

Bessie’s Hope employed the services of the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park Resort, so that May and her daughter, Marie, could ski together again. When May first saw the chair ski and asked what it was, she was told that she would be skiing in it. To that, Feisty May said, “That’s weird.”

She enjoyed every second of it and laughed her way down the mountain.



Youth & Elders Featured Program ~ Escuela de Guadalupe

Escuela de Guadalupe has partnered with Bessie’s Hope for many years. They participate throughout the school year for regularly scheduled visits, during which intergenerational relationships blossom. The youth and elders participate together in reading and writing activities, arts and crafts, dancing, games, singing, and lots of hugging. The rewards and life-long benefits for the youth are immeasurable, and the respect for the elders and how much they enjoy being with the elders have been
integrated into the core of their beings.

The entire school is involved in an annual day of service, and they chose Bessie’s
Hope as one of the services. Approximately 50 students from 1 st to 8 th grade received the Bessie’s Hope orientation/training, because not all of the students have been part of the classes that visit regularly. There were two groups bringing joy to two groups of elders, one at Cedars Health Care Center, the other at Gardens at St Elizabeth. The elders glow with happiness, and they are eager to share their
stories of years gone by with the young listeners.

After lunch, the youth made posters for the elder communities and wrote thank yous to Bessie’s Hope sponsors, which are shared through the year.

The story and photos from Colorado Uplift participating in the Bessie’s Hope “School-to-Career Work Force Development for Long Term Care” are here.

Pictured below are elders and youth at the two respective elder care communities.


Gardens at St Elizabeth


Cedars Health Care Center

Your Relationship to Sound & Music, Part II

Since the beginning of humankind, there has been music-making.  The first instrument was the human voice.  Second came things to beat on and things to shake or rattle to produce sounds.  For centuries, it has been known that music has the power to soothe and calm or to incite into action.

As a Board Certified Music Therapist and a presenter on the therapeutic and healing powers of sound and music, I had the wonderful opportunity to study for a number of years with Don Campbell.  A world renowned author and speaker, Don has written many books, such as The Mozart Effect, from which I’d like to share the following:

“What is this magical medium that moves, enchants, energizes, and heals us?  In an instant, music can uplift our soul.  It awakens within us the spirit of prayer, compassion, and love.  It clears our minds and has been known to make us smarter.

Music can dance and sing our blues away.   It conjures up memories of lost loved ones.  It lets the child in us play, the monk in us pray, the cowgirl in us line dance, the hero in us surmount all obstacles.  It helps the stroke patient find language and expression.

Music helps plants grow, lulls children to sleep, and marches men to war.”

Part I of this blog on our relationship with sound and music touched on vibrations, sound, and making sounds and music with our own voices.

Part II deals with recorded music and suggested applications with primarily instrumental music.   For a nurturing “sound bath” that can be taken in  3 – 5 minutes at your desk, select a piece from the Baroque period, such as the popular, Pachelbel Canon in D.  This style of music is at 60 – 65 beats per minute,  repetitive, predictable, no extreme changes in volume, and always resolves to the awaited home in the key structure.

Move your chair back from your computer and desk, sit with both feet on the floor, hands resting in lap, and close your eyes.   Allow the music to flow over and through you, as though you were sitting in a natural hot spring.  Music has the ability to entrain our biorhythms, so with this piece of music, our breathing becomes deeper to better oxygenate all our cells.  Our heart rate slows, and so does our frantic mind.  One or two such sound baths each day can also lower blood pressure, just as excessive noise can raise it.

Since we are bombarded with noise and chaotic frequencies sometimes 24 hours a day, our bodies are constantly subjected to the release of adrenalin and norepinephrine, which raise the heart rate and ready us for “fight or flight”.  Sound baths are the perfect antidote.

In caring for elders, Part I dealt with humming to create a more soothing presence.  Part II suggests allowing the elders the same opportunity for “sound” baths.  While helping someone dress or bathe, this genre of music lessens the anxiety and discomfort they feel from having another person doing these things for them.

Another suggested application for this music is in the dining room at care centers.  The entire dining experience is enhanced, because the music creates a calm spaciousness.  People can chew, swallow, savor and enjoy eating.  The music is also a nice background for table conversation.

Time to read, concentrate, to memorize, to learn—–the suggestion is playing instrumental music from the Classical period, such as compositions by Mozart.  Music fires more neurons than any other single stimulus, and with the structure and theory throughout this style of music, the brain is awake and alert.

Crossword puzzles and other mentally stimulating games can be nicely paired with this music.  In using this musical stimulation with stroke patients, it is a good background for re-establishing language patterns.

Mozart’s compositions are also suggested for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease in completing various tasks, and for those with Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, and other neurophysiological disorders, the music has assisted in regaining control over neuromusculoskeletal functioning, such as gait in walking.

Of course, marches are also excellent for regaining this type of control.  For individuals in rehab or at home with a physical therapy regimen, marches assist in leg strengthening and endurance exercises.

Exercising and working to the rhythm of instrumental “big band” music and to other eras’ popular music pieces that have a steady beat, not erratic, and that is not too loud or too fast also create a pleasurable sound environment.

Singing along to favorite musical selections is advantageous for everyone, when it is time to relax, unwind, oxygenate our bodies, walk, etc.   However, we do need to be mindful when involving lyrics in our musical experience that the brain can only focus or concentrate on one thought or task execution at a time.  Recalling and singing lyrics while simultaneously entering data into a computer will most probably result in misspelled words and miscalculations of numbers.

This is a wonderful tool to use when working with individuals to train or retrain task execution, such as adding melody to “this is the way I tie my shoes, tie my shoes, etc”.   Singing lyrics in this mode assists in accomplishment.

Time to create, or just be—–use again the spacious Baroque music or meditation music.  In caring for others, or just caring for ourselves, we need to give our beta self a rest and spend time with our alpha self.  In caregiving, facilitating activities with someone, or ones, this type of musical background allows space to paint, sew, do crafts, cook, bake, etc.

Recorded music can be used to enhance our daily lives and to share positive, inspired frequencies and energy with our world.  Our bodies are soaking up the music on a molecular level—so nourishment or hazardous? —  A question to ask individuals who drive up beside us or behind us, polluting the environment with a mixture of discordant sounds, erratic beats, and negative, disrespectful words—-

Linda Holloway, Board Certified Music Therapist


Youth & Elders Program Feature Story- Swigert International School at Balfour Stapleton

We are so pleased to have begun our partnerships with both Balfour at Stapleton and Swigert International School this past year! The ongoing visits from elementary friends bring smiles to the faces of all the Balfour elders.  Each week a new group from the school arrives ready to spread joy.

Swigert International School, like several of our other campuses, has made a unique commitment to allowing each of their students to visit the Balfour at Stapleton. We began with visits from 5th graders in the fall, 4th graders in the winter, and now, 3rd graders for the spring.

The elders at Balfour look forward to sharing their stories each week, and laughter abounds among the youth and elders.  Our Bessie’s Hope team is so proud to see happiness emanating from the elders, compassion gained by students, and the bond built by the two during each visit.

Learn more about how to get your youth or school group involved here.

Community & Elders Program Feature Story – Screen Pilot at Briarwood Health Care Center

It felt like a family reunion!  The elders at Briarwood Health Care Center were treated like the matriarchs and patriarchs of the families of these volunteers.  Becky Dibble, owner, and 10 other employees from Screen Pilot  filled the room—and the elders—with love, joy and appreciation.  Facilitated by Bessie’s Hope, there was dancing, singing, hugging, and a lot of “getting-to-know-you” conversation.  After this first visit, Becky and the others decided that this would NOT be the only visit.   Screen Pilot will be part of the Community and Elders Program for ongoing visits!

Learn more about getting your business or community group involved here.