BURLINGTON, N.C. -- After her husband John was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Carol Guill says it was hard taking care of him by herself.
"He was beginning to be a lot to handle for me," said Guill, whose husband died in 2013.
Physically and emotionally she needed help which she got from an aide and volunteers from Liberty HomeCare & Hospice in Burlington.
They helped run errands or just sat and talked with John.
"He perked up quite a bit,” Guill said of her late husband. “It was somebody else other than me to talk to."
Volunteer coordinator for the hospice Cathy Schalk says providing that companionship hasn't been easy lately.
"During the summer your volunteers dwindle,” Schalk said. “A lot of times, people take vacations."
The hospice normally has 25 volunteers for an average 20 patients.
Currently, they have 17.
"You don't want to have a volunteer quit or resign,” Schalk said. “You don't want to have them burn out."
More patients and fewer volunteers -- it's a trend at many hospices in the Piedmont.
Mountain Valley Hospice in Mount Airy has 400 patients and about 120 patient family volunteers.
Hospice of the Piedmont in High Point has about 120 patients and about 80 patient family volunteers.
Dale Metz takes his job as a volunteer seriously.
He's been a volunteer at Hospice of the Piedmont in High Point for eight years and says the need has never been greater.
"We are constantly needing more volunteers," Metz said.
It’s the kind of help to make the final days of people like John who died last year their best days.
"It made life much more comfortable for him," Guill said.