Help for in-home caregivers

  • Tue Jun 17th, 2008 4:44pm
  • News

Senior Information and Assistance, in the form of the Senior Services Coordinator, is often the “front door” to developing care plans and support services to assist needy islanders and their family caregivers. Respite services are a vital element in maintaining the health and stamina of these caregivers in the home where most care giving happens.

Respite care in San Juan County can provide care and companionship to people who are ill, disabled, or have dementia and cannot be left alone. The program allows caregivers to take the much-needed break that they deserve. Periodic breaks are important for such things as shopping, running errands, keeping medical appointments or to have a change from the heavy duty and stress of daily care giving. The risk of caregiver burnout is high and the Respite Program allows the client to remain safely at home as long as possible by providing rest and recuperation for their caregivers.

At one time or other in our lives most of us will be a caregiver or need care. Caregivers are often so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect their own emotional, physical and spiritual health. The demands on the caregiver’s body, mind and emotions can easily seem overwhelming leading to fatigue and hopelessness and, ultimately, burnout. Symptoms of caregiver burnout are similar to the symptoms of stress and depression. They include:

• Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones

• Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

• Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless and helpless

• Changes in appetite, weight or both

• Changes in sleep patterns

• Getting sick more often

• Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring

• Emotional and physical exhaustion

• Irritability

An individual client may stay for up to 13 nights per month at the skilled nursing facility in Friday Harbor. The caregiver must be unpaid and providing at least 16 hours of care or supervision per day. The Senior Services Coordinator will meet with both parties to perform a comprehensive assessment and establish the level of care required. Everyone qualifies financially for a reduced participation rate depending upon a sliding percentage of current DSHS published pricing. Lower rates, as low as zero, are provided by funding from the Northwest Regional Council and Area Agency on Aging.

Volunteer Hospice services are available at your home on three islands as well and soon you will also have access to Medicare paid service from Skagit Hospice. Pain and symptom management are available under the direction of a registered nurse and your physician.

Anyone caring for a loved one or working in this field is invited to the Annual Caregiver Conference in Bellingham on Friday, March 28. Call Elder Service Providers at 360-752-1039 for more details.

San Juan Senior Service Coordinators can be reached at these numbers:

Lopez — Mary O’Bryant, 468-2124

Orcas — Linda Tretheway, 376-2677

San Juan — Curt VanHyning 378-2677