Where to Find Respite Resources
About 750 programs throughout the 50 states use volunteers to provide caregiving services to families in their local communities. Low income may not be a requirement for receiving services.
Programs near you can be found by accessing the Faith in Action website, www.fiavolunteers.org and clicking on "Find a Program," or by calling (877) 324-8411. Caregiving programs that are part of the Faith in Action network must train their volunteers and many perform background checks before allowing volunteers to participate.
Local places of worship and town social workers are other good sources of information about local volunteer programs, as are service organizations such as Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions.
Hospital Patient Advocates
If your loved one is hospitalized, and you are unsure where to turn with your questions about inpatient and outpatient care, locate the hospital patient advocate. Advocates, whose services are provided free of charge to patients and their families, are there for just such situations, so don't' be shy – seek them out.
You think about them. They think about you. So consider calling on your friends for the help you may need. They care about you, and may offer to sit with your loved one while you run errands, or help out with meals.
But the best role of all for your friends is being a friend. Laugh together. Cry together. Tell about triumphs. Tell about defeats. Your friends can help keep life in perspective, and give you the emotional support and boost you need. This can be the best respite of all.
There are many national and/or non-profit agencies (some listed above in this article) that offer a variety of services and respite resources. They are normally accessible via websites and most have toll-free numbers. Here are a couple that might deserve a second look:
Children of Aging Parents, www.caps4caregivers.org, or at 800-227-7294, helps caregivers of the elderly with information and referrals, a network of support groups, and publications and programs that promote public awareness of the value and the needs of family caregivers.
Share the Care, www.sharethecare.org, or 646-467-8097, is a grassroots organization dedicated to preventing caregiver burnout by promoting and educating people about the benefits of group caregiving using the "Share the Care model." While this may not be the answer for all caregivers seeking respite, it's worth a look at the website.
An online community may provide the mental, emotional and social respite that gets you through the day. Some offer other services, such as online organizers, educational materials and on-line caregiver training. Blogs, chat room communities or downloadable podcasts and videos are other resources. Find the one that suits your needs and personality.
CareCentral, www.carecentral.com, is a personalized web service allowing users to create a private, secure online community during significant family health events. It is a free tool to update friends and family, organize and schedule offers to help, providing support when most needed.
Lotsa Helping Hands, www.nfca.lotsahelpinghands.com, is a volunteer coordination service for friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to assist loved ones in need. It's an easy-to-use, private group calendar, specifically designed for organizing helpers, allowing everyone to pitch in with meals, transportation, and other tasks necessary for life to run smoothly.
Even though there may be a fee for services, care professionals may save you time, worry, concern, and even money over the long term.
If you feel overwhelmed by decisions about a loved one's care, a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) may be the person you need. Most GCM's are licensed social workers or nurses. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) requires its members be licensed in their fields, trained in geriatrics and adhere to its guidelines for professional conduct.
Search the NAPGCM website at www.caremanager.org, or call (520) 881-8008 to find a care manager in your community.
Homecare companies provide a broad range of non-medical services to help you get that much-needed respite break. In addition to caring for your loved one, they can also help with shopping and errands, and even prepare meals or do laundry. Call the Eldercare Locator at (800) 677-1116 or find them on the web at www.eldercare.gov.
And of course, you've already found us! Agingcare.com is an online community for caregivers to the elderly. The site focuses on providing expert insight and networking opportunities in the key areas of caregiving including health, living, finance, product and care for the caregiver.
Reprinted with permission from Agingcare.com. AgingCare.com is a website and online forum for people caring for their aging parents. Caregivers can communicate with each other, get answers from elder care experts and access news, information and products related to caregiving.
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