The dictionary describes respite as, “A short period of rest or relief from something difficult.”
Being a caregiver for an adult, whether that adult is a parent, spouse, child, other family member or life partner, is one of the most difficult tasks that life hands to people. Caregiving is a 24-hour job, 7 days a week. Taking care of yourself while being a caregiver is all important. A caregiver simply cannot work without rest or a time off to care for themselves and to do the things they need to attend to without interruption.
At the end of my caregiving, I hired professional caregivers from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. so that I could sleep through the night in another bedroom in the house. They would wake me up when they ran into a problem. My days were so intense that I needed that sleep.
Many areas in Northern Nevada offer respite care for caregivers, giving them time to do the things they need to do for themselves. With that said, most respite care personnel do not offer nursing services. Check on the WashoeCaregivers.org website for “Resources for Family Caregivers to Seniors in Washoe County” for respite care information. If the person you are caring for is on hospice, hospice offers respite care during the day, but not at night.
Being able to go to your own medical or dental appointments is all important while caregiving, as is simply taking time out for yourself from caregiving chores. Having a respite care person come in to sit with your loved one so that you can go shopping, have lunch with a friend, go to a concert, go for a walk or simply take a nap gives you time to breathe, and plan for the days and weeks ahead. If personal care is needed, make certain that the respite care person can help the patient with personal care.
Some skilled facilities offer respite caregiving for days or even a whole week, so that families or individuals can take a well-deserved holiday. This time also gives the person being cared for a change. Several skilled facilities are listed on the WashoeCaregivers.org website. Call and ask if they will take people who need caregiving services for several days, then visit the facility to make certain that you are comfortable with the care and services they offer. Many of the in-home-care services offer 24-hour care. It is expensive, but well worth the cost so that the caregiver can take time off.
One family I know shares caregiving. To keep their mom from being confused, the son and daughter each have a room with a bathroom in their home that is exactly alike, with everything the patient is familiar with in the same place. They simply take their Mom for a drive or to a medical appointment when it is time to shift caregiving chores, then take her to the other house. The arrangement works very well for them and gives both families respite time for themselves.
All too often, a caregiver will collapse under the stress of caregiving, and it is stressful, believe me. There are many services in Washoe County to make the caregiver’s life an easier one.
Respite care is whatever works for you so that you have time to maintain your friendships and social contacts during caregiving, so that your own lifestyle does not change. This is all important. Your life does not end when caregiving ends.