A Respite Club for Caregivers

Sacramento Region, CA  |  By Rebecca Graulich
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The Respite Club is packed with fun activities, music, dancing, games and exercise. Photo courtesy Respite Club

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Rebecca Graulich

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - There’s a happening club in that caters to a select clientele: people with dementia.

The Respite Club is packed with fun activities, music, dancing, games and exercise. A mid-morning snack is provided as well as a full lunch. It is open approximately 10 days per month, five hours a day and is striving to increase its hours of operation.

“Our doors open at 9:30 a.m. and we are on the move until 2:30 p.m. when we end our day,” notes Activity Coordinator Terri Lyman. “We focus on mental, physical and social stimulation. It is a place where participants can fit in and be themselves, and usually they make friends quickly.”

While club goers enjoy themselves, family caregivers take advantage of the “respite” aspect of the program: time for themselves. Caring for a loved one with dementia can be overwhelming – emotionally, physically, mentally and financially. Caregivers need time to run errands, see friends or just be alone.

Bobby, a volunteer, observed, “The Club gives participants a sense of belonging and caregivers needed freedom.” He knows, his father attends the program.

“Our goal is to bring peace of mind and support to families touched by dementia,” says Program Coordinator Flora Maloney, who over the past 17 years has grown the program from three hours a month to 50. “When caregivers are rested, they are better able to face the challenges of caring for a person with a disease such as Alzheimer’s. When care recipients are happy and relaxed, it contributes to a better relationship between caregiver and care recipient.”

The Respite Club was recently recognized by the 100+ Women Who Care Sacramento chapter who selected them as the winner of a pitch competition among local nonprofits. The prize, approximately $10,000, will be put toward expanding the program.

This is good news for participants like Ann who noted, “The club is a great place to meet people and enjoy doing interesting things. We all enjoy the projects and the good meals.”

The Respite Club hosts an annual Caregiver Day event, which provides information on a variety of topics to help caregivers navigate the challenges of caring for a loved one. Several professionals, including a trust and estate attorney, a marriage and family counselor, a tax preparer/financial planner, a care manager and an end-of-life coach, as well as many others, donate their time and offer free 30-minute private consultations with caregivers. This year’s event also features panel discussions on home modifications to prolong living at home, and care for the caregiver, as well as a talk on caregiver resources.

Caregiver Day is Saturday, October 21, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Cordova Neighborhood Church, 10600 Coloma Road in Rancho Cordova. There is no charge to attend. Consultations are restricted to family caregivers but everyone is welcome to attend the presentations and visit the tables of the various professionals. For more information or to register for private consultations, call (916) 635-5147.

The Respite Club not only benefits the participants and their caregivers but all who come in contact with it. Glenda, the Respite Club bookkeeper, shared, “I came to the Respite Club 15 years ago when my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I am so grateful for the love, compassion and care we found here. I decided I definitely wanted to be part of such a wonderful program. What a blessing for the caregivers, care recipients, volunteers and staff.”

Rebecca Graulich is the Assistant Program Coordinator at The Respite Club and the chair of the Sacramento County Adult & Aging Commission. She can be reached (916) 635-5147 or rebeccag@respiteclub.org.