So This is What Respite Looks Like

CathyJ

So This is What Respite Looks Like

CathyJ
This past weekend, I had the greatest gift….the gift of respite. It has been quite a journey to get to the point of asking for, receiving and accepting respite. I’ve also learned how blessed I am because not all caregivers receive this gift, so I appreciate it more now than ever.

Over the course of this last year, we have received the “official” diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for mom. She has moved in with us. We have begun the process of closing down our childhood home. My family has gone from frustration, resentment, denial and anger  at mom and myself to learning, caring and supporting. It hasn’t been easy, but it is changing and moving and we are growing in love and care and knowledge.

My adult nephew has asked if he could stay nights so my husband and I could take a break. I never pushed because I was worried about the “what if” and felt like I was trying to get a handle on what was happening, only to discover the handle kept moving. And, in fairness to me, my family was only coming to terms with the realities of this disease and understanding the gravity of mom's changing abilities and needs. Because I had been aware and with mom for so many years, I was a couple of years ahead of them in the process.

I finally realized that this is a long race, not a sprint. My family will only be able to care for mom if I support them and let them, and I need and deserve time. My husband, who has been a rock through this, deserves the same. We deserve the same.

So last weekend, I typed out a 5-page list of what to do in the mornings and evenings and general information. I walked my nephew through it. I walked my sisters through it. I reminded my family that mom already spent daytimes with each sister during the weekend, so we were just added early morning, evenings, and nights to the process. I told mom we were taking a mini-vacation. Held her hand and told her I knew it was hard when we weren’t there, but she would be okay. Told her, her grandson would treasure the alone time with her. Gave her a hug, kissed her and we got in the car.

It was strange. Quiet. Hard to turn off the caregiver brain. But, I refused to turn back and I didn’t call in. I trusted my family to call me if they needed me and they did. My husband and I relaxed and turned off the worry. We slept. We talked. We enjoyed our time.

When we got home, all was okay. And, my sisters and my nephew said, "You need to do this once a month." So, I survived respite. And, I will commit to it again…and I wish I could make it happen for every caregiver.



 

 

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CathyJ

Babs, No kidding..It is the what it FEELS like that is so amazing and almost foreign like after continual caregiving. I am glad you have some time during the week and sure understand how it isn't always personal respite. I use my mom's group time to run errands and that was just cut in half. Ug...I wish I could wrap a weekend up for all caregivers and send it to them. Just sleeping was amazing. Understand the expense too. Caregiving can be such a financial challenge. I am excited to see Denise's new efforts to support respite with the essential oils fund raiser. Will be exciting to see it happen for caregivers. Thanks for responding.

CathyJ

Lynette, Thanks for the comments_mysql. I agree that it will be much easier each time for everybody. I think the timing was right for us all as a family, we've had time to grasp it better. And, I had a bad spell with blood pressure when I was sick in December and it really hit me that I needed to take care of myself and respite is an important part of that. And, mom's geriatric group support got cut in half because she is \"doing so good\" so I lost 2 1/2 hours a week of me time. It became a reality for me. My husband and I are going to a meeting next week by the state Alzheimer's group and hope to learn more. We live in a rural area so options are not readily available (that I know of anyway). So great that you have the respite program....much needed.