Sixteen community members participated in the January REST (Respite Education and Support Tools) training. After a day of conversation and interaction, they are now ready to assist those in need. What is respite? Respite provides the regular, full-time caregiver of an individual who requires assistance, with a little time off. Caregiver burn-out is a tremendous concern, that is alleviated with the help of a caring friend or neighbor. Individuals who provide respite care serve as companions and helpers. This might include a walk, a game of cards, a drive around town, or just quiet conversation and is determined by the team of caregiver, care recipient, and respite volunteer.

Many fear offering respite because they feel that they will be unable to fulfill certain tasks. No fear necessary as REST volunteers do only what they are comfortable with. For example, a registered CNA/REST volunteer might feel confident with bathing procedures. In this case, go ahead on. A kind friend, on the other hand, may not wish to perform such duties and so does what is comfortable. A group interview helps determine just what services may be offered to fulfill needs.

Respite volunteers are friends, someone to talk to, to share the past, to discuss the future. This is something that most of us do automatically — we are present because that is what good people do. If you are interested in this training and feel that respite volunteer might be an ideal opportunity to extend a helping hand while expanding your unique talents, please contact me about our next training, Saturday, April 14. With Nevada Aging and Disabilities Services providing all materials, and breakfast and lunch served, you cannot go wrong. And you may just go very right.

As for the clean-out portion of this article … A couple of months ago I discussed information from a New York Times article about all of the precious junk we tend to hoard with a plan of foisting it at a later date upon our children. Desks, rockers, China, pianos, photo albums all hold tender memories for the adult, but often children, even adult children, do not sense the specialty of these “things”. After all, most kids already have everything they need and while the excess cargo looks fine at Mom and Dad’s home, they do not want it cluttering their homes. The decision becomes toss or giveaway now or wait for the family to chuck out all of these wonderful valuables (or better written “valuables”?)

Following a guideline on New Year’s resolutions I created a couple of overarching, all-year-long goals like watching spending and being nicer, but I also jotted down a month-by-month declaration to adhere to. My January goal entailed throwing out or giving away a minimum of 5 items per day. A drawer counted as only one item, so I could not reject five pairs of socks and call it good enough. Regardless of the treasures within, at least one drawer gem had to go. Now it could be small, like old, outdated papers or it could be big, like every shred that is just taking up room. Each rejected item presented me with extreme pleasure.

That is until the last 4-5 days. Then hard decisions had to be made. Did I really need to keep a Tupperware appetizer tray that I had not used in years (and had taken on that odd texture of well-used plastic) even though it had been a gift from my sister? Yes. I do not use it and neither will the kids. Little by little, by the 31st, 155 items (actually far more if individually counted) met donation pile, rag bag, or garbage can. With some of those hard to toss articles, I waited until Sunday night before taking them to the trash knowing that early pick-up would have them gone before it was light enough for me to plow through the tangled refuse to retrieve them.

This decluttering movement has become contagious. Even with my new February resolutions (more writing and less reading of newspaper articles that distress me), I am finding the urge to continue my purge. I now include a weekly rummage through the refrigerator and cupboards to clear out stuff we won’t or shouldn’t eat along with many other worthless (though sometimes marvelous) pieces of junk. Refreshing. This may make me attend to cleaning house so my children will not have to dig through boxes of miscellany one day and wonder, “Why?” Happy tossing!