Respite II

David’s wife, Carol,
is chronically ill.
She’ll never get better.
David watches over her
day in, day out.
A neighbor once said,
“Just ask if there is anything I can do.”
David immediately responded, “I’m asking.”
“What is it you need?”
“Someone to be with Carol a few hours
every now and again,
so I can do things on my own.”
The neighbor happily agreed,
pleased to know exactly what would help.
David happily accepted her offer.
And Carol happily has social visits
from her neighbor and friend,
times she can look forward to.

Caregiver respite takes many forms.
People might come into our home,
or our care receiver might go to another’s home,
or perhaps to an adult day care center.
Arrangements might be made for full-time care
in an accredited facility
for a specified period of time.
Family members can provide respite care,
as can friends and neighbors,
colleagues and community volunteers,
as well as professionals of various sorts.
However respite care is handled,
research shows that it’s most beneficial
if it meets several criteria.
It’s best when the respite is regular—
a time the caregiver can plan for
and look forward to.
Each respite should provide enough time
to do something the caregiver wants to do;
a quick break is usually not enough.
The respite time should be geared
to the caregiver’s needs and desires—
the ideal timing, frequency, duration, and location
will vary from person to person.
It’s most beneficial if the caregiver
plans the use of the time in advance,
even if the plan is “I’m going to read
my favorite author’s latest novel.”
Whether the respite time is spent
in great activity or comparative inactivity,
the benefits readily add up
and healthy caregiving is naturally supported.

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