Once you decide to take advantage of respite care services you must prepare yourself, other family members, your loved one and the service provider for the transition.
Eliminating the Guilt
Guilt is one of the most stressful and destructive emotions associated with caregiving. It can cause anxiety, depression and a host of physical maladies, such as exhaustion.
Many times guilt develops when a caregiver seeks respite care services for their loved one. He or she may feel they have failed in their role and in the performance of their duties or that they somehow have let their family member down.
This couldn't be further from the truth. Making use of respite care services is a self-less act. Doing so means the person realizes the responsibilities of being a round-the-clock caregiver are demanding and never ending. Asking for help is in everyone's best interest.
Eliminate any feelings of guilt or concerns by discussing the idea of in-home providers and adult daycare centers with other family members. Share your anxieties and frustration concerning the toll caregiving is taking on you. Ask for their input regarding the situation. Making respite care services a group decision takes the pressure off a single caregiver and holds everyone accountable.
Caregivers also can ease their conscious by:
- Making impromptu on-site visits to adult or senior daycare centers. This allows you to see first-hand what a positive experience it can be for seniors.
- Arranging to have the senior spend time at a center or with an individual in your home to see how they acclimate.
- Finding out what emergency procedures are in place. Knowing the facility has pre-established evacuation plans provides peace of mind.
Preparing Your Loved One for Respite Care Services
Seniors-particularly those suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia-do not respond well to change. They feel most comfortable in familiar surroundings with people they trust. Introduce your loved one to a "new" caregiver or environment gradually to assure a smooth changeover.
When speaking with the individual it may help to refer to adult daycare as work or an activities center or call the provider a "home helper" or a "new friend." Whenever possible have the senior share something about themselves with the caregiver or staff member, such as whether they are married, have children, grandchildren or pets. The objective is to gain the senior's trust and forge a bond.
Preparing the Respite Care Services Provider
Developing a relationship between your loved one and a new caregiver takes time. Remember, not everyone is compatible and you may need to try several situations before there is a connection.
To be effective caregivers must have a basic history of your family member, including their:
- Health and/or medical conditions
- A list of any prescription or over-the-counter medications they are taking or food/ drug allergies
- Personality traits, habits and routine activities
- Likes and dislikes especially regarding food
- Interests and hobbies
- Level of functionality, cognition and portability
- Ability to communicate
- Family and employment history
The Alzheimer's Association's offers a helpful, free form named "Personal Facts and Insights" which you can use to gather the appropriate information to share with a new caregiver.
Written by Home Care Expert Mary S. Yamin-Garone.