Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Respite Care is a Phone Call Away

by Carol Bradley Bursack

I've written, often, about respite care for caregivers. It's a way to relieve caregiver stress and prevent caregiver burnout. The problem is that caregivers often don't know where to get help. Also - and I was guilty of this - many are afraid that the elder won't like the relief worker and how they do things and so the care receiver will be unhappy. We caregivers use that as a reason not to get help.

Until we are convinced that we are important and that our health is at risk if we don't get breaks, we will continue to abuse our bodies, minds and spirits by working unrelieved caregiving shifts of days, weeks, months or years.

There are caregivers out there, however, that will take advantage of programs for respite care. They just don't know where to go. I've been told by our local aging services people that their phone "rings off the hook" after a column on respite care appears. People are often sobbing through tears, "I didn't know that was available."

I've wondered how to get this information into a more national form. And, today, I found a way. I was researching some sites and I found one I didn't know existed called the National Association of State Units on Aging, which is found by going to NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE UNITS ON AGING NASUA

This is a remarkable site with much information. Go to the site and scroll down to "Family Caregiver Support: State Facts at a Glance." Read a little government speak and then go to "Click here to view and download state profiles."

You'll read a little bit more about The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) that was created within the Older Americans Act in 2000. Keep scrolling down to "Individual State Fact Sheets." Click on your state and voila! There it all is.

You'll find out who qualifies (it's not income based). You can find out how to apply and you can find out what specific services your state offers. You will have a phone number to call. You will have addresses.

Then all you have to do if lift that thousand pound phone and make the call. You'll also have to convince Mom and yourself that she'll have a lot more fun with someone other than you caring for her for a few hours a week. That's the hard part, but you can do it. Your health is worth it.

To learn more about Carol, please go to http://www.mindingourelders.com/ or http://www.mindingoureldersblogs.com./.

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