R-E-S-P-I-T-E… Find Out What it Means to Me…

We all, at times, like to fancy ourselves as superwomen and supermen. Our culture certainly perpetuates the idea that the more things you are able to manage and to be busy with, the more you are considered to be successful and important. I would like to change our conversations and views surrounding this concept. We should praise those who seek balance, and take the time to care for themselves. Think about the last time someone was telling you how busy they were and discussed all the things they were doing. What was your response? I know I’m guilty in that usually my response is “Oh my gosh you’re amazing! I don’t know how you do it all!” Perhaps, next time, we can still have a similar kind response, but also encourage that person to take some time for themselves. Self-care is not something that should be frowned upon or feel guilty about. It is something we too should seek out for ourselves as a healthy balance.

Caring for your older loved one can be absolutely rewarding, but it can also be immensely exhausting and overwhelming. Over time, their needs may increase and the demand for your time increases, but what does not decrease? All your other responsibilities!

What is Respite Care?

This is where respite care can come to the rescue. Respite care is short-term relief for primary caregivers. Caregivers are anyone who provides help to another person in need. The respite care could be for a few hours, days or weeks. The care can be provided at home, at an adult day center or residential facility.

You may be concerned about leaving the care of your aging loved one’s needs to a complete stranger. How could they understand the complex treatment routines with all the subtle nuances involved? How would they be able to anticipate their needs the way you do? Or that leaving, for even a short period of time, would just create more problems for when you return, so why bother? These are all valid concerns. Even if you are the best possible person to care for your older loved one, it does not mean you should not look for an alternative at times to give you a break.

Respite programs are specifically designed to be able to appropriately address your concerns and to provide the essential aid for you and your family. Additionally, you can certainly provide detailed care instructions to the respite care providers regarding your loved one’s needs.

The first step is recognizing when you need a break to avoid burnout. Check out the 7 Caregiver Burnout Strategies and How to Prevent it post. Respite care can provide that vital break you need to decompress, recharge and restore some of your energy. It is equally beneficial for your older loved one, as it gives them a change in their routine and an opportunity for socialization. Having some time away is healthy for any relationship, and it by no means, should be viewed as though you have failed as a caregiver.

The next step is figuring out what you may need for your situation. What is great about respite care is that it can be tailored to your unique needs.

In-Home Respite Options:

  • Companion Services – A respite care worker can come and visit with your aging loved one while you are out. It is a great chance for your loved one to get socialization and to develop a new friendship.
  • Personal Care – Respite care can come and assist with bathing, dressing, bathroom, etc.
  • Homemaker Services – They can come to do the laundry, cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc.
  • Skilled Care – Properly trained respite care workers can come and help with things such as: administering medications, wound care, catheter care, and pain management monitoring or helping to properly move those with mobility issues.
  • Caregiver Cooperative – This is a new and innovative approach to respite care. The Co-op allows the caregivers to “buy” caregiving time for their loved one in the cooperative through volunteering once a month. It not only is an affordable form of respite care, but it also provides a sense of community among caregivers and their families. Check online to see if there is a co-op in your area.

In-Facility Respite Options:

  • Adult Day Centers – A center where they can provide health monitoring, exercise classes, various social activities- music, art and games. Meals and transportation are also typically provided.
  • Residential Facilities – There are senior living communities that offer an overnight stay for a few days or weeks. This is also a great way for you and your loved one to see if that particular facility could be a good fit, for possibly in the future. Emergencies or unplanned situations may arise, which means you will need a possible alternative caregiver last minute. Try out a few respite care providers in a non-emergency situation, so that if something does come up, you are already prepared.

Cost of Respite Care

The costs of respite care will vary, depending on the types of services you need. Typically, day programs or group respite services outside the home are less expensive compared to in-home respite care. Medicare Part A may cover temporary care for your loved one if in an inpatient hospice facility, hospital or nursing home for up to 5 days. Medicaid-eligible recipients potentially can have their respite care covered under Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Care Services Waiver Program. Your local Medicaid office will have the information and application. There are organizations that have volunteers that can help, at no charge to you, to be a companion for your aging loved one and to help with some household chores.

I implore you to take a look at your to-do list for the next week and take one thing off the list that is the least important. No, they are not all at an equal level of importance! Then begin to research respite care options in your area and do a “dry run.” You are in control to take back some of your time. You owe it to yourself, and of course, to your family and your older loved one.

It can be quite the daunting process of trying to figure out what and where would be the right fit for your situation. Denver Senior Care would be happy to sit down with you and help weigh all the pros and cons and identify the needs of your loved one. Then they can help you figure out what would be the best option, so you can have some peace of mind.