Saturday, November 22, 2014

Epilepsy Awareness Month Day 22: Tips for a Successful Respite

Confession: I am much better about talking about tips for a successful respite than I am about actually taking respite for myself!

A pedicure and a new pair of shoes -
my favorite form of self-care
It has been a while since Richard and I had a weekend for just the two of us so I planned an overnight visit away for Robert.  I contacted the facility we have used in the past and there was some concern about Robert’s past difficult behavior and the fact he now uses a wheelchair. 

Robert’s medications have been changed since his last visit and his mobility isn’t great but he can transfer which was their concern.  I suggested I bring him for the day to start since it had been several months since Robert had visited.  The director agreed that would be a good plan and assured me Robert was very welcome but his staff wouldn’t be able to care for Robert if he couldn’t transfer from a chair.  I assured him that he could do that and can even use a walker for short distances. I also reiterated that Robert's behavior was much improved since his medications were changed. 

So my plans for a weekend respite turned into seven hours.  Plus, not only did I have less of a break, I had to pay out of pocket for the afternoon.  Robert’s regional center will pay for overnight visits but not day visits. 

Planning a weekend respite included running errands, doing chores around the house and partaking in a bit of self-care – maybe a massage or manicure. 

Guess what went out the window with the “weekend" respite?

I told you I am better about advising people to take respite and taking advantage of self-care than I am about actually doing it!

These few tips are as much for me as they are for other caregivers.

Find out if your caree qualifies for paid respite.  For example, Robert qualifies for respite because he is a client of the local Regional Center. Other caregivers receive respite care benefits through the Veteran’s Administration.

Find a good care facility.  Finding a place you have confidence in will provide peace of mind while taking respite.  If possible, keep the same facility for each respite break so the staff is familiar with your caree and the caree is comfortable with the staff.  It makes a huge difference knowing your loved one is in good hands.

Self-care, Self-care, Self-care. Whether it is taking a walk, taking a trip, seeing a movie, reading a book, hanging out at home with the animals or getting pampered, it is important to use respite for some “me time.”  Of course, there are errands and chores that need to be done but I don’t recommend doing only errands (unless you just love to do them).  

Don’t feel guilty about taking respite. (Sure, easy for me to say!)  Taking a break refills my bucket.  It helps me be a patient person. Respite rejuvenates me so I am a better caregiver (at least it does when I don’t squander it on chores). There is no reason to feel guilty about taking a break.  If that still doesn’t convince you, then think of it as doing your caree a favor. They may need a break from you too! 

Please add your own tips in the comment section (I might listen to you more than I listen to myself!).

Oh, and as far as that weekend respite? We have one scheduled in a couple of weeks. 

Never give up!

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