Friday, July 6, 2012

Tips for our respite provider

David is my respite provider, a.k.a. Dean's helper. He provides Dean an extra pair of hands and helps Dean get some things done in half the time he could get things done on his own which is now a third of the time slower than before his's that for a math

I've talked to other wounded warrior wives who receive respite or are looking into it and have lots of questions about how to find the right fit. Here are some things I've learned by trial and error with David, our respite provider.

I was talking to David's boss about how things were going and because I know what I'm thinking only after I talk about it, I learned a lot of things by having this conversation with him. There were a few areas that I couldn't put my finger on as to how they needed improvement.

The first couple of days David was here, during times where neither Dean or I were talking, David would fill the space with questions or stories. I realized that to be Dean's caregiver you have to be comfortable with silence. Dean can't take constant noise and silence provides him with needed rest. More than just silence, I realized, a caregiver needs to somehow direct their energy in a non-outward direction. In other words, even when someone is silent, if their energy is outwardly focused you can "feel" that they're antsy or like they need you to entertain them. I finally realized that David needed to bring a book or laptop or a project of his own so that when we were in silence he could focus his energy on his own thing. WOW did that help! David's boss conveyed that to him and on the fourth day he brought something to read. I actually got things done that day and Dean did well. I felt like David could take care of himself over there.

Something else I discovered is that it would be helpful if David was watchful of when Dean left the room to get away. If David noticed that, he could ask me "Is there anything I could have done differently"? and that would allow me to give constructive criticism if I had any. Sometimes I would say "no, he just had a hard night last night" or I could say "yes, we have to make sure he has it quiet when he's reading something" (as an example). But if David were to ask that question, I could just tell him honestly and he could learn how to help Dean better.

The last thing I figured out was to tell David that Dean can only handle 2 inputs at one time and that that is his limit! A third input would overload his circuit and he'd not be able to think or talk and may have to leave the room. I explained to David that if little Dean is making noise in the living room (input 1) and David was asking Dean a question (input 2) and then a helicopter was flying by outside, that David should pause his talking until the helicopter was gone. This helped David greatly!

I am definitely taking note of all the little things that help Dean so that whenever we have different respite providers in the future we will have a better grasp of the tips that are helpful for the caregiver.

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