A 75-year-old grandmother cares for a legally blind teenage grandson and a 10-year-old foster child with behavioral issues.
A father with developmental disabilities tries alone to raise a young son who has surpassed him in cognitive ability.
A young mother raising her two children provides around-the-clock care for her aging mother who suffers from dementia.
These are just a few examples of Rhode Island residents struggling to care for a loved one in the home. Sometimes, it’s the caregivers who need to be cared for, and URI College of Nursing students, along with students from Rhode Island College, are helping thanks to a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Human Services Lifespan Respite Grant Program. Nursing students visit homes and provide whatever assistance caregivers need, whether it’s help feeding a paralyzed patient, modeling appropriate parenting behavior, or simply sitting with a patient so the caregiver can break away.
“It consumes your whole life,” URI Nursing Professor Diane Martins said of caring for an ill, disabled or aging loved one. “Sometimes, you need help providing care, or you just need someone to watch them while you go to Stop & Shop.”
The student visits will continue for three more years thanks to an extension of the Lifespan Respite grant, said Rhode Island Department of Elderly Affairs Director Charles Fogarty, M.P.A. ’81. The state agency is receiving $831,000 in federal funds to continue the respite program with URI and RIC and extend it to include students at Salve Regina University and New England Institute of Technology.
Any caregivers interested in receiving respite care can fill out an application at dioceseofprovidence.org/elder-services or call 401-278-4500. •