Respite Care: What Is It and Why People Wait Too Long to Ask for It

Sheryl Keeme, Executive Director

Everyone knows that airlines train their flight attendants to famously demonstrate how to apply the oxygen mask to one’s self before helping one’s child. Yet, as we age, many caregivers find asking for help to preserve their own health is often the last thing on their minds. Being a caregiver can be a lonely, isolating job, not to mention physically and emotionally taxing. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign of strength in that having help preserves the caregiver’s strength so that both the care partner and caregiver remain healthier longer. Despite the fact that caregiving can be so emotionally demanding, when a person understands selfcare and learns realistic expectations for themselves, it also can be deeply rewarding.

Family-based caregivers often neglect their own limitations. This can lead to having unrealistic expectations about their own abilities to provide care. And, moreover, if that happens, a spiral downward can occur where the caregiver becomes chronically anxious or even depressed. Sometimes, other family members can see it happening and can call out the behavior and encourage help and even offer it. However, in our community, many are living in Arizona while their family members are sprinkled around the country. It is common for these caregivers to even conceal their difficulties. As a result, the caregiver goes unchecked until a stress-related event happens or a true health crisis occurs.

Neighbors Who Care offers 13 different services through the generosity of our volunteers. These free services are designed to help seniors remain independent and healthy in their own homes with dignity, or true Aging in Place. The definition of respite care is temporary care of sick, elderly, or disabled people, providing welcome relief to the usual caregiver. Complimentary respite care is one of our services offered when a caregiver’s care partner becomes a client of Neighbors Who Care. After your loved one becomes an official client, caregivers may call us three business days before they need to be out of their home to request up to two respite care sessions, for two hours each, every week, absolutely free.

If you are caring for someone and are not able to leave your loved one alone to visit the dentist, or when you simply want to enjoy a couple of hours to yourself and you live in the Neighbors Who Care service area, your loved one could qualify to become a client. To find out, call Neighbors Who Care at 480-895-7133, and tell the receptionist you are inquiring about your care partner becoming a client to receive respite care services.