Respite care provides a temporary break in care giving responsibilities. It might be used to help alleviate caregiver stress or to allow you to take a brief vacation. Respite care comes in different forms that are suitable for various needs. With a little planning, you can find the support you need to help you care for your loved one.
Planning for Respite Care
Respite care is so important that a provision for it is built into the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Other senior programs may offer subsidy for respite care. Talk to a medical social worker or a geriatric case manager to find out which programs are available to you.
When you begin to plan for respite care, it's important to consider your loved one's caregiving needs. Does he require 24 hour around the clock supervision or assistance with all of his activities of daily living? Is she capable of caring for herself and just needs assistance with meals and medications? Your loved ones level of care giving needs will determine which kind of respite care will be most appropriate.
Another important thing to consider is how much help you will need. Will other family members or friends be available to help a few hours a day or at night or do you need someone to take over care 24 hours a day? Once you've determined how much help you'll need, you can begin to consider your options.
Types of Respite Care
Adult Day Care - Adult day care centers are a popular option for respite care during the day. Many caregivers who have to work during the day consider this option but it can also be useful for caregivers who are taking a vacation and have someone else to relieve them at night.
Adult day care centers are suited best for patients who are mobile and can enjoy social interactions. They staff at these centers serve meals, can help with feeding and toileting, and plan activities throughout the day. Most adult day care centers can also give medications if needed.
Adult day care centers are not suited to care for someone who is bedridden or very ill. When you're looking into a center, be sure to ask about their restrictions and limitations and discuss your loved ones needs thoroughly with the staff.
In Home Respite - Hired caregivers and home health agencies can provide temporary respite. Hiring a caregiver to be in the home can be expensive but many people find the expense is worth their loved one being able to stay in their home. It's important to choose a hired caregiver that you feel comfortable with and trust. You can find more information on hiring a caregiver, including question you should ask during an interview by reading Tips for Hiring a Caregiver.
A home health agency is another option for in home respite care. Not all home health agencies provide 24-hour caregiving, however. So if your loved one needs round the clock care, you may need to consider other options. Hired caregivers and home health agencies differ in the tasks that they can perform. You'll want to find out during the interview process whether they will be able to do everything you need them to such as give medications and do wound care.
Residential Respite Care - Many skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and residential care homes offer emergency and planned respite care. Skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes (terms often used interchangeably) both have licensed nurses on staff 24 hours per day. They can manage just about any medical condition under the supervision of a physician.
Residential care homes are typically single family homes that have been converted into care facilities. They typically staff medically trained technicians who can give medications and perform basic daily care. If your loved one doesn't require any skilled nursing, such as wound care, a residential care home may be a good option because they feel a little more like home.
Alternative Options - Savvy caregivers find creative ways to get regular respite. Some join caregiver support groups and take turns helping each other when needed. Others find family friends, family members, or other trusted individuals who are willing to offer some relief.
It's perfectly normal to have feelings of guilt when you're a caregiver doing something for yourself. If you find yourself feeling guilty for taking a necessary break, try to remind yourself that you will be an even better caregiver when that break is over.
Find out more about Paying for Respite Care