Only Anecdotal

No numbers, just stories

Up All Night

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As summer winds down now, I admit to having fallen into the habit of staying up late, and waking up late, as well. Vacation for some, luxury of the absence of alarm clocks, at least ones that go off before 8am… I could get used to this.

But so far, my nighttime wanderings about the house are no reason for concern by anyone who loves me. Right now, I have the fortune of good health, and no one is watching over me to make sure that if I am not resting, I am safe nonetheless. But the same cannot be said for so many families I have seen lately, whose patience and tolerance has been tested by lack of sleep, and lack of a break.

So, we do a lot of talking about a national need for respite for caregivers, but I think back to 2006, when I was speaking about the Lifespan Respite Care Act, and have to ask now, where is it?

Where is the respite care that caregivers of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities so desperately need?

Where, I ask two years into a three-year grant to find statewide answers, is the money? Where are the resources?

I am not making light of the work that many dedicated people have put into answering these questions, but I have to say that a full six years after the Act was passed, I am frustrated at the paltry sums I sometimes can dig up as answers to exhausted families and friends who are doing all they can to provide care at home. But it is not surprising that they reach breaking points, that eventually some people give up.

Caregivers get tired, and stressed, when reminded to “take care of themselves,” when doing so seems like another thing on the list, something else to plan, and re-plan, and often figure out how to fund, often privately–if possible. I know, because I have been there, and been on the receiving end of people like me, who tell me that they wish they knew of a solution for that particular need.

But truth be told, simply having the day-to-day help for the people we loved would be enough.

Now, actually, when I say, “day-to-day,” I really mean “night-to-night.” This seems to be the one thing that I can hardly ever figure out for people, unless they have the private funding to pay for it. It is not necessarily that individuals always need that elusive 24/7 care that frequently convinces families to depend on nursing home care. But so many people seem to need most of their help at night, when they may be frightened, anxious, or simply cannot sleep. Or maybe they do sleep, and awaken from necessity, may fall–or may not awaken, may not breathe, may wander. The world runs during the day, people may visit, if only to deliver mail or a meal. But at night, in the dark, so much of the world stops, whether our own rhythms tune into this or not.

I am looking for answers here, for respite, for available personal care hours that may not be during the day… I have families who keep asking me for more help, and more and more, I am frustrated not to know what to tell them.


Written by Only Anecdotal

13 Aug 2012 at 11:40pm

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