Updated: Jan 7
May 31, 2018
Respite work is about more than giving caregivers a break.
“It has given me a purpose and something to do,” said Linda Klomp, a respite volunteer with Nevada Rural Counties Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
Klomp works with two clients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and provides their primary caregivers a few hours relief from the constant attention their loved ones need. “Alzheimer’s is 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Klomp, who worked as a registered nurse for 34 years.
Klomp and her clients are typical of many participants in RSVP’s respite program. “Probably 50 percent are living with some type of dementia,” from Alzheimer’s, or traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder afflicting some aging veterans, said Susan Haas, executive director and CEO, RSVP.
Others may be suffering from cancer or chronic obstruction pulmonary disease, or autism or a physical disability in younger clients, that requires vigilance on the part of the caregiver, who needs someone to step in while they go to appointments, shop, or take a much-needed break.
But, the change in caregiver can be just as good for the one being cared for, said Haas. “The care recipient has someone new to talk to. It helps them maintain a higher level of independence. It helps them in so many ways,” said Haas.
Fourteen RSVP volunteers serve 21 clients in Carson City right now, but 18 families in all of the rural area that RSVP serves are on a waiting list for respite help, and RSVP is actively reaching out through a television ad and other marketing to encourage more families in need to seek assistance.
To do that, though, RSVP needs more volunteers.
“We are looking for people who may have a heart for this,” said Haas.
On Tuesday, RSVP is hosting a free, one-day REST — Respite Education & Support Tools — training at the Veterans Hall, 100 W. 2nd St.
“It’s an introduction to respite care, the dos and don’ts, how to provide care partnership, active listening, compassionate communications, what to do in an emergency, how to work with the family and caregiver,” said Haas.
Volunteers undergo a background check and are reimbursed for mileage. And there are limits placed on their assistance; volunteers don’t dispense medication, or lift or transfer patients.
RSVP provides quarterly and annual training as well, inviting a host of speakers on dementia, diabetes, cancer, and other topics the volunteer may encounter. And they provide ongoing help.
“They take good care of the volunteers,” said Klomp. “They’ve shown me friendship and given me support when I needed it.”
To volunteer, register for the training, or find out about receiving respite care, call Karen Caldwell-Weil, respite manager, at 775-687-4680, extension 123.