Guest Column: Service offers a hand to caretakers

He was much older when they met. Now happily married for 25 years, Julie and Raymond (not their real names) are dealing with the frustration and exhaustion of caregiving. Raymond had a severe stroke over three years ago. Julie is his main caregiver, but since he is a big man confined to a wheelchair, is paralyzed on one side and has limited speech, it’s impossible for her to do it alone.

Getting in-home helpers that are dependable and willing to do the work is hard.

“I’ve left no stone unturned,” Julie said. “I’ve heard it all and spent so much time training aides.”

Luckily, they live in Porterville, the only Tulare County town to have an adult day care facility, Valley Adult Day Service (VADS). Raymond goes there three days a week.

“They’re so helpful there,” said Julie. “They let me know his progress and interactions.”

At first, like many clients, he didn’t want to go there, but he wanted companionship and things to do, so now he likes coming.

“When he’s at the day care, I can relax,” Julie said. It’s not like a complete day off because she still has to get him out of bed and ready. He travels on Dial-a-Ride. “I’m usually exhausted, and sometimes I just conk out and sleep when he’s there.” 

What VADS offers is respite for caregivers who want to keep their loved ones at home but need time away from their loved one to go to work, do their shopping, or just to have some time off.

Executive director Laura Kaylor and her staff have a strong attachment to their clients. Their goal is to see the participant more than their disorder and to provide a “normal” in a life that is no longer normal.

A licensed adult day program, VADS assesses each participant and creates a personal care plan. Staff provide snacks, lunch, a variety of activities and personalized exercise programs.

“We have them do as much as possible,” said Kaylor. “Even if it’s just getting them to wash their hands, stand and sit or working on range of motion. It keeps them limber and able to get in and out of the car. Just that makes it much easier for the caregiver.

“To do for them takes away their independence, and the more dependent they are, the more likely they will need to be placed in a nursing home.”

Caretaking is a full-time, stressful job. Valley Adult Day Services can help with resources and training. No one can—or should—do it alone.

Valley Adult Day Services

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