|PLANNING FOR RESPITE
We knew we needed a break from time to time, but we could not leave Dad and Mom by themselves for any length of time. When Mom died, we couldn't leave Dad alone at all. We were very picky about who should stay with Him. It had to be someone who really loved Dad and who was a true caregiver. We could not relax and enjoy ourselves if we were wondering how things were going.
For a while, one of our daughters (Stephanie) was living with us and was a great help in this regard. She was a trained and experienced nurse's aide. One day my friend, Greg, gave us a gift certificate for a night at our favorite hotel. Since it was a weekend and my daughter didn’t have to work, she was thrilled to stay with my folks. So we stayed for two nights.
After Mom died, taking breaks from Dad were more of a challenge. Our daughter was no longer living with us, though she was still in town and continued to help us on weekends from time to time. There was a young couple named Arnaldo and Claudia that we had met at church. They became part of our ukulele band so they got to know my parents in that context. One day, Claudia came to us and said, "I've been planning to do volunteer work at a rest home. But then I thought, why not do something for someone I know?" So she made it her mission to give us an afternoon off each week. Once a month, she gave us a whole day off. Just what the doctor ordered.
Claudia was the perfect caregiver for Dad. She played dominoes with him and gave him snacks. She was loving, but fully in control. We felt completely confident when we left her with him. And Arnaldo was a trouper. He was home with their young daughter, Julia, so Claudia could concentrate fully on Dad.
We would leave a set of instructions including our cell phone numbers, where we were going, when we would return, and what to do if Dad complained of chest pains (ginger ale, nitro pills, 911).
At my 40th high school reunion, a classmate told me about a place called "The Ponds at Punalu'u." They accepted short-term guests so caregivers could have a vacation. My friend used The Ponds to care for her father when she wanted to go on a trip with her mom. Betty and I went to see the facility. We were very impressed. So we scheduled a week with them. However, we never got to follow through because Dad entered the hospital the week we were scheduled to take a vacation. And he died two weeks later.
I also found out that the Veterans Center For Aging was an excellent facility and would accept Dad for respite. They put him high up on the waiting list, since he was 100% disabled, but we never had the opportunity to use their services either. MORE>