There are times it will be essential for any elder caregiver to take a break. Your health and well-being, and most importantly your ability to continue providing good care for your loved one, depend on you having some rest and time for other activities. Read our blog posts from Stress Awareness Month with important information on Caregiver Stress Awareness, Tips for Reducing Stress and Resources to Help with Eldercare.
It is important that caregivers be able to retain outside activities, and getting away for a vacation can be vital. However, it may seem impossible for caregivers to do. There may also be times when you need to have a break because other demands conflict with your caregiving; for example, activities with other family members such as dealing with a spouse’s ill health, attending a child’s activities, attending a funeral of a loved one, and more.
You may be able to turn to other family members and your support system for help during these times. You may find this article on EasyLiving’s Caregiver Tips blog helpful: Creating an Elder Care Team.
The other solution for caregiver breaks, vacations, and conflicts is respite care. Respite means a rest period, therefore this care is designed for short-term periods to provide care to an elder in substitute for the primary caregiver (so you can get a break, whether for rest or another need). Respite care can be provided in a variety of methods and settings, and this is designed as a primer on those options. Check with a geriatric care manager or the Area Agency on Aging to find out what options are available in your area.
Home Care Respite care can be provided in the care recipient’s home by a home care agency/elder caregivers. A home care company will meet with you, assess your loved one’s needs and develop a care plan for short-term assistance while you will be away. If your loved one requires 24-hour care, the company will provide a team of caregivers to cover the shifts.
We will cover some additional tips for selecting an agency/caregivers, preparing for your break (and preparing the caregivers) and how to set the home care team up for success in additional posts. An advantage to this respite option is the consistency of allowing your loved one to remain in the familiar home environment. This may be especially advantageous for someone with dementia, if you and your care team set things up to provide a smooth transition and consistency (for example, training caregivers on likes/dislikes, schedules, routines).
Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Home Respite Care Most eldercare facilities offer respite care stays, as long as they have space available. You should pick a facility as if your loved one were moving there: finding out about the quality of care; identifying facilities capable of managing your loved one’s needs; reviewing location, activities and other important factors. Consider hiring one of our geriatric care managers to help you with Florida assisted living options, and possibly help with the transition and oversight.
Typically, facilities will charge a daily rate for respite stays. Assisted Living Facilities usually designate furnished rooms to accommodate respite, so that you only have to pack personal belongings for the stay. In Florida, facilities are required to complete the same type of admissions paperwork as they would on any resident. One advantage to having your loved one stay at a care facility may be that it gives you and your loved one some insight in to how this may work, if needed as an option in the future. Sometimes it can be a “mini-vacation” for your loved one too, if they enjoy the activities and amenities the facility offers.
Adult Day Care and other community programs may provide respite options as well. For example, if your loved one only needs help during daytime hours or there is another family member who works during the day, an adult day program may be ideal. These may be offered through stand-alone adult day programs (possibly run by aging organizations/local non-profits) or care facilities. They typically charge a daily (or portion thereof) rate (for example, some elders attend a morning-only program, paying a half day rate and others may even offer hourly rates). Your community may have additional elder support programs to help as well, ranging from meal and transportation programs to telephone check-in services.
Respite care is not typically covered by Medicare or health insurance. Most of the options above would be paid for privately, although some funding may be available through caregiver support programs or disease-specific organizations. For example, chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association and organizations like the National MS Society sometimes have funding available to help offset the costs. Additionally, programs may be available through your local Area Agency on Aging.
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