The Kathi Koll Foundation

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A Caregiver Story: The Benefit of a Break

by: Kathi Koll on

Doreen’s 87-year-old mother needs round-the-clock care due to dementia, blindness, and diabetes.

Moving is also painful for her because of osteoarthritis and an old hip fracture. Because her two siblings aren’t able to help, Doreen has stepped in as the primary caregiver, which has meant stepping down from her own full-time career to part-time employment.

In addition, Doreen has had trouble finding trustworthy substitute caregivers so she could do her part-time work, go on errands, and visit with her daughters. This lack of any break has led to extreme exhaustion, which has made dealing with the stress and fear of watching her beloved mother deteriorate even more challenging.

“This has been such a scare to me,” Doreen said. “The thought of losing my mom has been heavy on my heart and mind.”

Two months ago, the Kathi Koll Foundation provided a bit of relief with almost 50 hours of respite care. Doreen, who has a phone app that allows her to watch a live feed of the care her mother is getting, found the hired caregivers were trustworthy and caring.

This meant, “I was able to get away from it all and breathe,” Doreen said. “I visited the Glen Ivy Spa in Corona Del Mar. I stayed overnight at the Marriott, had breakfast, and returned home. I got a manicure and pedicure. I shopped. I was able to go to church. I had some alone time to reflect. I sometimes went back to bed— something I can rarely do these days. Most importantly I spent time with my two daughters.I was able to regain myself.”

The break also allowed her to step back from the emotional trauma of watching her mother’s condition worsen. A hospice team recently reviewed her mother’s health and found she was doing okay considering her age and health challenges. Each day, her mother spends time listening to gospel music and enjoying the company of both her daughter and her nurse dog, Biscuit. And Doreen, whose daily routine includes feeding her mother a liquid diet, bathing her, moving her, and monitoring her blood-sugar level, has also found some renewal that has refreshed her.

“I truly thank you for the services that the foundation awarded me. This was what I needed and more.”

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Kathi Koll is the founder of The Kathi Koll Foundation and author of the award-winning Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Caregiving. Please visit to learn more about the book and read an excerpt. Sign up for the blog here .