As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
Probably because I’m in the aging biz, I find it almost impossible to believe that many caregivers still do not have even the slightest clue what to do when they need to go somewhere but have a live-in and dependent mom or dad (or whoever the family member might be) to care for. This makes no sense to me. Dozens of respite options are available, even in the smallest communities.
The other day, I was taking the ferryboat from Bainbridge Island into work in Seattle, and I overheard one woman say to another, “I really need to get some Christmas shopping done, but I just can’t leave my mother alone. I don’t know what to do.” I thought to myself that I should tell her about her local adult day center or the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers (IVC)—to name a few options.
Over 4,500 adult day centers in the United States operate, in part, to provide respite to family caregivers. They offer a marvelous service provided by intelligent, caring staff. How is it possible that caregivers do not know about their local adult day center? The new adult day center on Bainbridge (where our clueless caregiver lives) would be perfect, and they offer a first-day-free option to check it out.
IVC is a nonprofit organization operating on Bainbridge Island. Local faith communities launched the organization. Here are a few of the services they offer, which are provided by volunteers from the community:
My point? A caregiver who goes without respite services is foolhardy. Taking care of a frail, possibly demented older person or a young, significantly dependent younger person is hard work. Would a mechanic try to work on a car without tools? Would a doctor try to set a bone without an x-ray? Would an architect try to build a building without plans? I think not. We all need tools to do the job, and respite for caregivers is an essential tool in the caregiver toolbox.
I get the part about guilt and control—but get over it! Everyone benefits from the use of respite services.
By Sara Myers
A Good Enough Daughter Blog