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Respite Care: What Is it?

I want to remember
By REGINA D. Posvar LPN,RNA

RESPITE care is basically a temporary break from caregiving while the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia continues to receive care. It is designed to help families with the challenges of day-to- day caring. The services can range from a one-time couple of hours of care to full-day, overnight and extended length of time.

It can be in the home of the family or respite can be at a centre or nursing home. Respite care is needed support that helps families keep their loved ones at home. It provides the necessary break from caring that requires 24-hour supervision and hands-on care.

The concept of respite care is well-known in the US, UK, Canada and other places around the world. Here in St. Lucia, it is fairly new and a growing need in the subject of Alzheimer’s and related dementias in our communities.

Families that provide 24 hour care and supervision for their loved ones living with dementia can benefit from respite and should utilize the services available regularly. This will help them continue to give good care to their loved ones. With statistics of increased depression related to caring for someone with disabilities, and more specific with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, respite care is a valued answer for families.

These services can help families with simple tasks that they do not get the time to do, such as running errands, going to their own doctor’s appointment, taking a nap, doing yard work that they enjoy, attending a class they have wanted to take, vacations and spending time with friends and family without the duties of caring. Often, families isolate themselves from the things they used to do because of the challenges of caring for someone in the home.

Some family and friends can help relieve a family caregiver and it is encouraged but many times other family and friends are not available. Check around and see what volunteer programmes are available and what other programmes offer respite relief. Depending on what is needed and who is providing the service, prices can vary.

The St. Lucia Alzheimer & Dementia Association (SLADA) is working on the development of a respite programme to provide relief for families and will work with other programmes in place to reach a wider range of our communities. Therefore, we are calling on all organizations of government and NGOs that do offer such services to notify SLADA so that we can help direct our families that call in for assistance and support. You can reach us at brainhealthstl@gmail.com; 758-486-4509. Let’s team up!

Q: Hello, Miss Regina. My mom has lewybody dementia. She has been having accidents about once or twice a week now and we did have her checked for UTI and she is clear. I am assuming she is losing control of her bladder muscles, so we are trying to get her to wear Pampers. She is giving us a really hard time. Any suggestions?

A: This is quite a challenge for most people in the earlier stages. My suggestion is to recognize the word “Pampers” as something that babies use and your mom may be insulted that you would even consider asking her to use them. As far as she knows, she does not have an incontinence problem. This is her truth. Accept this as her reality. In fact, apologize for suggesting if this seems appropriate. If she is aware that she has accidents, then try pads for protection. If she is unaware that she has accidents, wait a day or so. When she is not around, clear out all her underwear/panties and replace them with the “Pampers.” Never tell her they are Pampers. Tell her they are panties or whatever word she uses for underwear. She may notice they look different. Act normal like they are panties. Help her look for the ones she normally wears but you can’t find them. Stay calm and say, “Mom, let’s put these on for today and maybe we should go buy you different ones later.” Chances she will forget through the day and tomorrow is a different day. You start over with same scenario or you may add, “Oh, Mom, we forgot to go shopping to buy you different ones.”

This may or may not work. This should trigger other ideas to try with her. The key is to stay calm and never use the words “Pampers” or “diapers”. Use the terminology she is used to and soon she will accept that is what they are.

Send your stories or questions to angelsofthewest@outlook.com or WhatsApp 758-486-4509

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