Sharing and caring

An estimated 570,000 people in Alabama care at home for a loved one with an illness or disability. If you are one of the caregivers you know how important respite is in providing temporary relief or “break” for home caregivers.

Caregivers in Alabama save the nearly 6 billion dollars annually by providing over 430 million hours of unpaid care for their loved ones at home. Caregivers service all ages, childhood to senior years.

The Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network is working with a group of consumers, caregivers, organizations and agencies in the Jefferson and Shelby County areas to raise awareness for the need and benefits of respite. Sharing the Care is an initiative that works within a localized area to accomplish increased access to and availability of high quality respite resources to all Alabama caregivers.

“The extensive day-to-day responsibilities of home caregiving can take a toll on the entire family,” says Linda Lamberth, Program Manager for Alabama Respite. “Without relief, caregiving can result in illness for the caregiver, interrupt the family dynamics or lead to caregiver ‘burnout,’ which can cause unintentional abuse and neglect of the care recipient.”

Respite or hospice volunteers can provide reduced stress on a family, help relieve some of the pressures and worries of the patient and/or the caregiver, improve family functioning, increasing time with spouse or other family members, and freedom for family members to participate in community activities. The Shelby County RSVP volunteer program works with the Sharing the Care program and several hospice organizations.

These include Alacare Home Health & Hospice, Comfort Care Hospice of Pelham, Family Comfort Hospice, Hospice Services of Alabama, New Beacon Hospice, Oasis Health Care, Southern Care Hospice and Wiregrass Hospice.

The purpose of the respite and hospice programs is to touch hearts and lives by offering spiritual, emotional, and physical support. The Sharing the Care committee is working to present information and education to a wide variety of groups and individuals who may be interested in presentations about caregiving and respite. Volunteer opportunities are available through the Shelby County RSVP program at 669-3837.

Marvin Copes is the Shelby County RSVP coordinator. He can be reached at 669-3837.