We sometimes fail to take into account the fact that caregiving brings emotional burdens that many times--no, I'm going to say MOST times--outweigh the physical work involved in taking care of someone who is infirm. Caring for someone who is dying is the most emotionally stressful form of caregiving. When we are involved with a disease such as Alzheimer's and the dying process is lengthened over a long period of time--it has been 7 years and counting for us--well, let's just say that respite is sorely needed.
The most valuable services Sandy provides for us don't have to do with the time she spends with my mother, but with the thoughtful things she does to make my day-to-day life easier. She recognizes that I am the one who carries the grief and burden of caring for my mom, and that her job is to lighten my load wherever she can. We are blessed by her presence in our lives; thank you, Sandy.
The following is a list of Sandy's stellar qualities, and can be used as a guide for understanding what constitutes good respite care:
- Prays for the caregiver and care recipient
- Recognizes that the job of respite caregiving is to lighten the load for the primary caregiver and focuses on the caregiver's needs
- Understands that the caregiver bears burdens that can't be seen and is accepting of grief and stress related behaviors (aka, grouchiness)
- Empathizes with the terrible grief of seeing a loved one behave in aberrant ways and never makes jokes about the patient's disease related behaviors
- Does not repeat stories--humorous or otherwise--about the patient or caregiver, and practices complete confidentiality
- Does not criticize the primary caregiver's caregiving decisions, recognizing that while the respite care provider spends just a few hours each week in the caregiving environment, the primary caregiver is there 24/7.
- Remembers that the patient's current condition not an accurate portrayal of the person he/she once was, and does not judge him/her for disease related behaviors.
- Is honest and trustworthy
- Treats the patient with kindness and empathy, aka, love