I recently had the opportunity of participating in a class to train caregivers – caregivers with skills to attend to the elderly, those with autism or MS, or other special conditions. REST, which stands for Respite Education and Support Tools, is sponsored by Nevada Aging and Disabilities Services. The intent is that with a little help, those in need of care can remain in their homes with their regular caregiver while recognizing that the full-time caregiver also requires an occasional break. Those trained through REST have the support and background knowledge to fill this role by providing companionship and assistance to the care recipient while the caregiver has a few hours to walk, pay bills, join yoga, or relax, knowing that his/her loved one is in excellent hands.

I will be offering this 8-hour class, either in 2-3 shorter sessions, for example, three Wednesdays from 5-7:45pm, or all day Saturday. Because I strongly believe in the benefits of this training, I am excited to offer it to you. Now you might be a high school junior or senior seeking leadership/volunteer hours and so this class matches those requirements. But more importantly, when Great Uncle Bob and Goofy Aunt Sue come for the holidays, you will be able to take care of special needs in a highly professional manner. This training will also provide a glimpse of what it takes to offer respite services perhaps guiding you into a career as a CNA, RN, physician, or other health care provider.

Maybe you have a cousin who has been diagnosed with autism. You will gain essential skills in how to best assist your relative, keeping the mood and tempo calm. This experience may lead you into opening a day care, teaching, or volunteering in an afterschool program. There is nothing like knowledge to build confidence and competence in a new field of study. 

The class is certainly geared for adults as well. Volunteers and paid caregivers are in high demand. You may have a family member who is immersed in the 24/7 caregiving circuit, afraid to leave a loved one alone or with a “stranger” while also fearing breakdown and burnout from the total dedication necessary to care for someone around the clock. Imagine the positive difference you will make in the lives of others with your newfound talents.

As a REST companion, you donate the gift of one-on-one time to a child, teen, young adult, or the elderly. This might be an hour a week or it may be more. With REST you, the caregiver, and care recipient decide the schedule that works best. Another excellent aspect of becoming a REST companion is that you are not alone. We will create a network of Winnemucca care companions so that you have a team to engage with and ask/answer questions plus you have me as a supporting guide. The power of our group will be phenomenal.

What are the expectations of you after this training? Hopefully, you will find time in your already busy schedule to help others. Even a few hours given to someone else make a positive difference in your own outlook and sense of well-being and as a caring individual, REST is a chance to serve others. After a few months or a year, you may find yourself overwhelmed with other responsibilities and so your giving time may have to be reduced. That’s all right. Your skill-set will not disappear. In fact, it seems as we age we just get better at giving to others.

Finally, you may find that taking care of someone – even someone you love like Grandpa or Gran – is just too much. We all support others in individual ways. If constant chess games have driven you batty, you might bring in a jigsaw puzzle to change the scene. If listening to repetition is making you short-tempered and angry and redirection and a broad smile fail, you may need time off. You might fill this time with other types of support like grocery shopping or mowing the grass for a loved one, or you might just have to retreat, regroup, and return at a later date.

All in all, the REST format is a win-win situation as you discover truths about yourself and also bestow a gift of time and companionship to someone else. If you are interested, please contact me and we will start juggling a schedule into being. I look forward to hearing from you, gini.cunningham@sbcglobal.net