Hints from Heloise: Giving caregivers a break

Dear Readers >> I get so many letters from caregivers who have family members they take care of without help from other family members. It’s not an easy task to look after someone who may need around-the-clock care, or who acts inappropriately whenever they become frustrated by real or imaginary problems.

When this happens, the caregiver places their health in danger from sheer fatigue and a need for relief. This is the time to call a family meeting and ask other family members to step in and help out. If this is not an option, there is respite care. To find respite care near you, contact a local hospice, home for the elderly or a doctor you normally visit and trust. There are various options they can provide for you while you take a vacation or have a few days of rest and relaxation.

So, who pays for this respite care? That varies according to your situation and coverage. It’s best to contact an agency either by phone or computer to find out what each agency offers and to do some comparisons to see which fits your needs best.

Will the person receiving the care object? Maybe, maybe not. A lot will depend on how it’s handled. Ask the agency you’re working with how you should tell the other person that you are taking a few days off. Believe me, the professionals will know what to say and do.

You may be tired, or your patience is wearing thin. But there is help out there, and you have access to it if you have a telephone or a computer. You can type in “respite care” or “help with senior care” and get started. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

We received a number of letters from people who had suggestions on what to give someone as a holiday gift, especially an elderly person:

• Give them the gift of your time.

• Share a meal with them at their favorite restaurant.

• Take them with you when visiting older family members.

• Organize an album of family photographs and present it to them.

• Offer to clean their home or do yardwork for them.

Dear Heloise >> Just by accident, I found a way to cut down on pet hair and remove dander and flea dirt from my cat. Bathing a cat can be traumatic for both the cat and the owner, so one day while using a lint roller on a chair to remove cat hair, I thought it might be easier to just use the lint roller on the cat. (You can get these rollers at a discount store for a dollar.) I began to push the cat’s fur against the direction it grows and roll the lint roller along the place where the skin was showing. It was amazing! I got a lot of dander off my cat, along with loose cat hair and a little flea dirt. The cat thought I was grooming him and was very cooperative.

— Harriet N., Erie, Pennsylvania

Dear Harriet >> I tried this on my cat, and it works!

Write to Heloise

P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000

Fax: 210-HELOISE

Email: Heloise@Heloise.com

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