Local couple offer safe place to stay
Need for respite care increasing Julie Sorenson readily points out the scratches on her walls caused by wheelchairs cruising down her Moorhead home's hallways. They lead to three cozy bedrooms, where Sorenson's special guests stay. Some come for ...
Need for respite care increasing
Julie Sorenson readily points out the scratches on her walls caused by wheelchairs cruising down her Moorhead home's hallways.
They lead to three cozy bedrooms, where Sorenson's special guests stay.
Some come for a weekend or a week, others for a few hours on weekdays.
There, in Earl and Julie Sorenson's rambler, they receive the care they need for a short time, giving the primary caregiver a muchneeded break.
"There's such a huge strain on the person doing the care giving, it can also be a strain on the person receiving the care," Julie Sorenson says. "Every caregiver needs to get recharged."
Regular guests of Sorenson's Safe Stay include disabled 13-year-old twin sisters, Lizzie and Kelsey White, and a developmentally delayed 15-year-old girl. All three spend time there after school and some weekends.
"Her services are so invaluable," says Clare Garberg, permanent foster mother of the 15-year-old, Liz. "Without her, I don't know what we'd be doing. I don't know if Liz would still be with us."
The Sorensons have provided in-home care for more than three years. But as the area's population ages, the couple wants to extend their respite services more to elderly clients.
"The need is going to be growing so much," she says.
As baby boomers need more services, respite care will be key in keeping the elderly in their homes longer, says David Hallman, foster care licenser with Clay County Social Services.
More than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend in any given year, according to the National Family Caregivers Association. The value of the services family caregivers provide is estimated to be $257 billion a year.
But caring for someone with special needs, whether it's a disability, medical condition or Alzheimer's, takes its toll.
Adult foster care can provide a break.
While most adult foster care tends to people with developmental disabilities, a new category is emerging in senior citizens, Hallman says.
They don't need intensive medical care, but someone to supervise them - to make sure they take their medication and don't wander off, he says.
Family members are more likely to work now, he says, meaning someone isn't at home to do this.
"We have a need in the middle based on the new family dynamic situation," Hallman says.
Minnesota created a new license a year ago for in-home family adult day services. Hallman says there are three in the area now.The Sorensons are licensed to do both child and adult foster care. They can care for up to four clients at one time, Julie says.
In their family setting, they say the intergenerational approach works. Clients take part in the family's routine activities, like cooking, shopping or going to a movie.
The family's private space, including three bedrooms, is in the basement, where Earl and Julie spend time with their two children when one of their two regular staff members is on duty.
"Anyone who calls my house home, I call them family," Sorenson says.
One area in which she sees a need for respite care is during special events.
Weddings, reunions or holidays can be stressful when a family member needs a primary caregiver. This duty often falls on the shoulders of another family member.
"We can come alongside, allowing the primary caregiver to participate as well as the person receiving care," she says.
They charge $14.16 an hour, and $120.36 for a day of inhome care. Sorenson says people are often surprised to hear how affordable their care is.
"We've just been so blessed by the people who've been part of our family," she says. "They all touch your heart in some way. "If we can make a difference to someone for a couple hours on a weekend or on a regular basis ... that's what we feel called to do," she says.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525