Caregivers take pause with respite care - East Valley Tribune: West Valley

Caregivers take pause with respite care

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Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 8:00 pm

Taking care of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be a daunting challenge year-round, but added stresses, such as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, can make it too much for some families to handle. Short-term respite care can be the answer.

Peoria resident Pam Turnage took advantage of the Banner Alzheimer’s Residence respite care facility for her ailing father in September at the recommendation of his doctor, and she said the transition was the saving grace in helping both of them cope with his Alzheimer’s disease.

The Banner Alzheimer’s Residence, in Peoria, provides respite care on a per-diem basis for people with dementia during the holidays and throughout the year.

“This came at a really good time for me, and for my dad,” Turnage said. “I was searching for a place that would be good for Dad’s journey, and good for my journey.”

Taking her father, Patrick, into her home wasn’t an option for Turnage because she works and doesn’t have the time or means to look after him, but she also worried about putting him in a nursing home where he might not get the care he needed.

The facility offered Turnage the time she needed to be able to make a decision about her father’s care future, and it prepared her and her family for what they were going to go through.

“He should have been here sooner, but I didn’t want to look at it that way,” Turnage said.

Residence director Kay Spofford said Turnage’s situation allowed her to get her mind together about permanent care, but the facility works with families with a variety of needs.

For example, a family might use respite care if they are going on vacation or having surgery and are unable to look after a parent during that time.

“It’s often a good transition for a family,” Spofford said. “They get to see how much work it is.”

Respite care can improve family relations, help everyone involved cope with stress, and improves attitudes toward the family member with a disability. Situations like Turnage’s can be scary and leave family members feeling guilty about the difficult care decisions they have to make, Spofford said, but respite gives them a break.

“It allowed me to take a breath,” Turnage said, adding that it took her about three weeks to make a choice about a permanent living situation for her father, knowing that his disease would only get worse. “I didn’t want to admit it because you could still see a glimmer of Dad.”

The certified caretakers at the facility are experienced and familiar with the special needs associated with diseases affecting memory. Turnage said she appreciated that she could call them to get updates or ask questions about her father.

“He had the best time,” Turnage said of her father’s stay; he loved the nurses and enjoyed the attention he got.”

Turnage’s father now lives in a senior living community that has a specialized memory care section, which she now realizes he needs after the using the bridge of respite care between that option and living on his own.

“I got to see him last night and that was my Christmas blessing,” Turnage said.

The Banner Alzheimer’s Residence is at 12750 N. Plaza del Rio Blvd. Call 623-815-2700 for more information about respite care options.

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