Wed, Sep 22, 2021
Home Town Debate
Willapa Harbor Herald
Lewis County News
Traveler's Companion
(360) 942-3466 • PO Box 706, Raymond, WA 98577

The goal is to keep the caregiver healthy

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During times when there seems to be no stopping or even slowing down, respite sounds like "time to breathe" -- and that's a luxury.

We've all been there at some time or another; when it seems like we aren't able to carve out enough of that particular luxury in order to regroup. For most of us, it's really a very temporary thing, as the work day will eventually end, we'll go home in order to start again the next day.

For many folks, however, the tasks at hand are at home, and aren't very temporary. The people we're looking at this week are "family caregivers"; and though usually they don't identify themselves as such, it is what it is: providing care for a spouse, parent, etc., on an ongoing and unpaid basis. And by virtue of being a family caregiver, the focus is necessarily not on them -- it's the "other" that needs the help.

Let me say up front that family members take care of other family members because they care. They do and do and do, and wouldn't have it any other way. It's a family thing, and I get it. What happens, though, if in the midst of all that doing, you never get to that "short period of time you are able to stop doing.." as defined above?

Unless we came from Krypton, our energy levels are not inexhaustible. Daily stress due to concern for a loved one, reduced sleep, skipping hobbies, all add to a possible crash down the road unless there's some kind of intervention or help.

I can imagine these folks providing care saying "It's not about me." Sometimes it has to be, or the whole thing could fall apart. If the caregiver begins to need care, it seems ground is being lost...

Aside from pointing out the obvious to those who are already doing this, I want to present a possible process that can help. And, as I said, this is about the caregiver. The Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) is designed to assist the family member in continuing to provide care. It's that simple.

The FCSP's efforts are geared toward reducing stress, avoiding burnout, providing respite, making connections to other types of help, providing information, and so on. Support can (and has) taken on a variety of forms, ranging from counseling, support groups, information, respite/time off (depending on funding available), helping to pay for exercise/health programs, etc. Plus you have someone walking through this with you, supporting and advocating on your behalf.

The goal is (again) to keep the caregiver healthy enough to keep doing what they do. For more information, contact Kerry Buchanan (buchaka@dshs.wa.gov) or Kim Cook (cookka@dshs.wa.gov). You can also call them direct at our Raymond office (which covers all of Pacific County for FCSP) at 942-2177, or toll free at 888-571-6557. You can also visit our website at www.o3a.org and explore FCSP in a little more detail.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Yes, time is a luxury; however, if you squeeze out a few minutes, you might find that soon, you may have even more than a minute or two -- a bit of...respite.

I was recently at a meeting, which is far from unusual for me, when something cool happened. A woman sitting next to me said the last time I mentioned RAP (Relatives As Parents), she gave the information to a friend who was indeed in the relative-as-parent mode.

She went on to say that after contact was made, we were able to help said friend with some unexpected expenses related to her new circumstances. Like I said: cool. Not only is it rewarding to hear about things working out well, but was also to know that when we are getting the information out, it's more than just words. It actually finds a need.

Call it re-parenting or any other catch-phrase, but it's out there and it seems to be increasing. RAP, or you might have heard of it as Kinship Care, is designed to provide once a year help with some of the costs involved in being parents -- again.

While many may have heard of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, this also covers nieces, cousins, etc. -- and we're beginning to see great grandparents in the mix. And these grandpas, grandmas, aunts, uncles, and so on, wouldn't have it any other way. It's all about family.

Sometimes, (probably often) if it's been a while since raising their own kids, there are bound to be surprises in store. School activities have changed over the years and the kids currently in school have a different experience than when we were in school, but since our kids have grown, this all may be new. School fees can sometimes to be a bit overwhelming, whether Drivers Education, sports fees, whatever.

Or it could something as basic (and necessary) as school clothes or materials, bedding, hygiene supplies and so on. Whatever the need, it is nonetheless a need and usually unplanned for until it comes up.

If an open DSHS case or licensed foster care is involved, other venues would have to be explored, but other than that, it's a relatively broad program.

Financial assistance isn't the only help available, as we also have a lot of information we can share and can assist with finding whatever else someone may be looking for.

For more information, or to see what can happen, in Pacific County, contact Kerry Buchanan at 942-2177, or toll free at 888-571-6557. You can also email her at buchaka@dshs.wa.gov. Or, you can call any of the numbers at the end of this column and we'll make the connection for you.

Thank you families for doing what you do. We all need a little help sometimes, so let's see what we can do.


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