Sunday, September 02, 2007

Caregiving: the gift of time

“Respite” is a word I thought I could define, that is until I tried ‘googling’ the word ‘respite’. Whoa! There is way too much information. 


Caregivers are a spectrum and respite obviously varies. “The gift of time” seems unquestionably the best of possible definitions.


Current guestimates are that 20% of adult Americans provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year. … Are you part of the remaining 80% and looking for that perfect gift? Try ‘the gift of time’!


Respite does not mean you watch so and so while I take a break.


In US culture, family, friends, and neighbors are frankly intuitive about respite and wonderfully supportive “in the beginning”. For example, bringing over a meal, visiting is about helping. Rolling up the sleeves and talking while sharing some housekeeping chores.


As time goes by in long term care, caregiver support drifts. That early network of pulling together fades.


Not every caregiver makes it easy to help. Taking care of everything by oneself can get all mixed up in gender, culture, and more. Invite yourself, yes, just try a little give and take. Help shouldn’t kick down the door. Don’t define help, be helpful.


A parent caregiver recently shared with me how a visit from a taller and more mechanically inclined friend spontaneously shifted to replacing burned out bulbs in every ceiling light.  Not only was the respite visit enjoyable but the ‘gift of time’ illuminates the home long afterwards not only in light but in memory of friendship and caring.


Knowing you are not alone is a beacon for any caregiver, any time, any where.


Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer


  1. This is a great reminder.  Thanks for sharing all the tips.


  2. Thanks for reminding me to visit and offer to help my neighbor who had knee surgery three weeks ago. Since school started, I haven't been as vigilant in my visits. We may get caught up in the routine of our workdays. But there's always time to call and offer to help, or to stop in and see if there is anything we can do. I often call her to see if she needs anything from town when I'm on my way home. bea

  3. i agree the gift of time is something that should be accepted and given:) enjoy your weekend


  4. Having walked many miles in those particular shoes, I can tell you how much it would have meant.    Leigh

  5. This is so true!

  6. Yes, I'd experienced the baffling "fade-out" when both my parents died, preferring to do it at home.  Yet perhaps not so baffling, as I watched a sister lose a job, another acquire panic attacks, a brother trying to deal with "survivor's guilt", all the minutia that comes when children care for dying parents.  I think Patrick it's a very different dynamic than spousal caregiving, nevertheless your point is still viable:  "time" isn't necessarily something you calculate on a clock, giving your time can mean giving your SELF to the situation.  Great post.  xo CATHY        

  7. I can see where someone might feel overwhelmed from time to time without some kind of respite. Many times just simply having someone else to talk to about fusterations and worries goes a long way. Thanks for keeping us all informed. (Hugs) Indigo

  8. ..............yes some time to sit and chat with someone outside the caregiver's normal space........I am so tied with 2 that sometimes I lose perspective.

  9. ...........hope everything is going well with you and you are getting some respite........we all need more that we get.

  10. ................I needed respite so much this week, so I took my neighbor with me and bought her a lunch  at the take out salad bar when I picked up my families take out salad bar.........she needed respite, too.  Sometimes we need to remember respite is for everyone and we had time to talk and laugh!  


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