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Rural RSVP volunteers are asked to provide 10 hours of service each week, for a total of about 40 hours a month. They receive a monthly stipend of $175 plus mileage reimbursement.

ELKO — The Nevada Rural Counties Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Inc. has received funding from the Fund for a Healthy Nevada and State of Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division to continue providing respite to primary caregivers and their adult disabled or elderly family members.

The service is provided to support caregivers of those suffering from autism, brain injury, cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or other intellectual or physical disabilities.

“Family members or friends that provide respite for the care recipient are also eligible to participate as volunteers,” said Susan C. Haas, executive director and C.E.O. of RSVP.

RSVP is the only organization in Nevada that provides caregivers with regular breaks utilizing Volunteer Respite Workers at no charge in the family’s home. Donations are gratefully accepted. No one is turned away because of an inability to contribute.

VRWs receive orientation and training prior to beginning their respite care assignment. They receive a $175 monthly stipend for their ongoing commitment of time to the families they serve, plus mileage reimbursement at 40 cents per mile.

Based upon their care plan and the availability of volunteer resources in the area, caregivers receive essential breaks for four hours a day, two times a week, which enables them to engage in enjoyable activities and attend to their own needs.

Caregivers often become so involved in taking care of someone else that they allow their own needs to be pushed aside, Haas said. Research shows that most family caregivers are ill-prepared for their role and provide care with little or no support. Consequently, the caregiver’s health suffers and their ability to continue caregiving becomes compromised.

The physical and emotional stress that caregivers endure results in higher rates of depression, chronic illness and even death. If the primary caregiver succumbs to stress and ill health and is not able to provide care for the care recipient at home, the care recipient in many cases has no alternative but costly and premature institutionalized care.

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The Respite Care Program is part of RSVP’s Independent Living Programs with a mission to assist low-income homebound seniors, veterans and caregivers to remain independent and in their own homes as long as possible with dignity.

Haas said well trained RSVP volunteers are assigned to go into the homes of stressed out, overwhelmed family caregivers who provide care to their loved ones, allowing caregivers several hours of free time a couple of times per week.

Respite for family caregivers also provides the one being cared for with someone new to spend time with and share stories and thoughts that stimulate their minds and bodies and assures them they are worthwhile people and connected to the community.

For a list of volunteer opportunities, or for information about qualifying for RSVP services, contact Janet Van Der Dussen, RSVP field representative, at 753-4060 or visit www.nevadaruralrsvp.org.

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