GUEST COLUMN: Respite for Caregivers

By Sid Sadler

Every caregiver needs a break, and that's what the Tennessee Respite Coalition is all about.

The Tennessee Respite Coalition is a nonprofit that serves family caregivers across the state of Tennessee. Whether you are taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or a child with special needs, the goal is to provide respite, those much-needed breaks for stressed out caregivers. 

Senior Companion Program

The Senior Companion Program provides an opportunity for adults over the age of 55 a chance for a meaningful volunteer experience, while providing companionship and support to homebound adults in our community. Our trained volunteers are matched up with elderly adults who need help with companionship, meal preparation, household management, and other activities of daily living to maintain their independence and dignity. Senior companions work with home health clients who are recovering from illness and offer a source of respite for family caregivers who often have no other support. They also provide understanding and comfort to hospice patients and become the support system and family to those who are alone or isolated. (There is NO COST to the family). The satisfaction of feeling needed and appreciated is a better reward than any amount of money.  

Sumner County Volunteer Program

The Sumner County Program follows many of the same structures as the Senior Companion Program. We are just now starting this program in Sumner County, and are excited about getting volunteers to caregivers who need respite. 

Services Provided

  • Maintaining a safe environment for a vulnerable or frail person while the caregiver is away.
  • Moral support to caregiver/care recipient through active listening. 
  • Socialization with care recipient. (Virtually, if needed, during pandemic)
  • Engagement in recreational activities with care recipient as needed and wanted. 
  • Encouraging and assisting the care recipient to maintain and develop independent living skills when appropriate.
  • Music and memory personalized playlists, and iPods and speakers for a meaningful experience.
  • Recording “Story of your Lifetime” questionnaire books, which can be done virtually over the phone. 
  • Amazon tablets for clients to access movies, shows, songs, audio books, apps, and games, as well as to connect virtually with our volunteers.

For more information, please contact Sid Sadler at volunteer@tnrespite.org or (615) 219-5379.

Respite Voucher Program

We provide respite reimbursement for caregivers of loved ones with special needs. Caregivers can hire anyone outside of the home to help with their loved one in order to relieve the caregiver. This includes individuals and facilities. Caregivers pay for respite services up front and the TRC will reimburse those funds up to $600 per fiscal year.

For more information, please contact Jack Read at respite@tnrespite.org, (615) 269-8687, or tnrespite.org.

Sid Sadler is the volunteer coordinator for Tennessee Respite Coalition. He was born in Nashville and has lived there most of his life. Sid previously worked for the Delaware SPCA where he started a volunteer program before moving back home to Tennessee. Sid currently lives in White Bluff, Tennessee with his wife.

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