You Gotta Have Faith (and a break)
It is funny how as we age our conversations begin to shift. Our eighteen-year-old selves could not have imagined the many friendships that have endured the test of time, and only in our wildest dreams could we imagine that we would spend so much time talking about end-of-life care for our loved ones.
After attending the C-TAC National Summit on Advanced Illness Care in Denver recently we stopped in Nashville to visit one of Ramie’s college buddies, Pastor Sandy McClain. It was great to spend time catching up on things, and of course the summit was still fresh on our minds.
We told him what we had heard about the continuing struggles people face while caring for loved ones. The stress, we noted, can put caregivers at risk for physical and emotional health problems.
“What could our congregation do to help the caregivers in our community?” Pastor Sandy immediately asked.
From our own experience with Miss Norma and from what we learned at the summit we both answered without delay, “Respite.”
Studies have shown that respite has a number of benefits for both the caregiver and the care recipient. When the caregiver is refreshed, their attitude toward their loved one improves and the overall functioning of the family is enhanced as well.
We told Pastor Sandy about a break-out session at the Summit led by faith leaders where they talked about respite ministries.
We learned that faith-based organizations generally have a foundation of trust with their community and thus can give caregivers reassurance that their loved ones will be properly cared for in their absence.
Support from others and your own self-care can help with the well being, wisdom and strength that is needed on the caregiving journey. We have discovered that sometimes you just need to ask.
Have you asked for support from your community? A few hours to attend to errands, get a new hairdo or spend some time in nature or with an old friend could make a big difference in your well being and those around you.
Do you need a place to start? Check out the resources below:
ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center – This network features a Respite Locator which can connect you with respite services in your area and provide information on potential funding sources.
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) – The n4a can help you find your local Area Agency on Aging, which can offer a variety of support services that range from caregiver respite to transportation and emergency assistance.
Family Care Navigator – This guide, created by the Family Caregiver Alliance, breaks down caregiver resources by state, allowing you to find respite services near you.
National Volunteer Caregiver Network – The NVCN supports “Faith in Action” programs across the U.S. These projects allow volunteers of all faiths to share their time and skills with caregivers in need of respite. Find resource near you using the Network’s Locator Map.
C-TAC has also developed a blueprint that can help faith leaders work with healthcare providers to take care of those in their community who live with advanced illness.