Respite Care: A Primer

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As its name suggests, respite care allows caregivers a respite from caring for a loved one. Respite care can be provided by a home care agency, a local senior volunteer organization or a retirement community. This care is customized to fit the family’s and senior’s needs.

Map of Respite Care

Caring for a loved one at home can be an overwhelming task. If family members are not careful the physical, emotional and financial responsibilities that come with being a caregiver can take their toll. Even the strongest of individuals needs help now and then. Enter respite care.

Respite care offers invaluable relief to America’s nearly 50 million caregivers by providing a well deserved and much needed break from their daily duties and responsibilities. Just a few hours of relief from the constant care of a senior will make a world of difference. It can alleviate stress, boost a person’s energy level and recharge their battery. Respite care also benefits those being cared for by offering them an alternative to their routine.

Why Respite Care?Respite Care

Respite care is a win-win experience for everyone. It allows caregivers to:

  • Visit with friends and family members
  • Spend quality time alone relaxing
  • Tend to their own personal needs, schedule appointments and run errands
  • Rest easy knowing their loved one is in good hands

The senior also benefits by being able to:

  • Enjoy a change of scenery
  • Make new friends
  • Participate in educational and social activities that challenge their abilities

Who Provides Respite Care?

Respite care can be given in the comfort of your own home, at a senior daycare facility or through a residential program. In-home care may be handled by volunteers, paid employees or a home care agency. This type of respite generally is provided in regular shifts by a single individual or a group of individuals. Clients can schedule one or multiple shifts in a single day for as many days per week as they wish.

Home Respite Care

Home respite care allows the senior to stay in familiar surroundings. This is an important consideration if the individual suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Typical services include helping the senior with personal hygiene, dressing, feeding and taking their medications, playing games or cards, reading aloud or simply providing companionship.

Senior Daycare Facilities

Senior daycare facilities are a good source of respite care for individuals who still maintain a moderate level of functionality. These programs accommodate working caregivers and generally are operational during regular business hours. Unlike in-home care, these programs feature scheduled activities that may include sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, stretching and range of motion exercises and musical entertainment. Meals and afternoon “treats” are provided with special attention being paid to any specific dietary requirements. Staff also will assist seniors with tasks, such as taking medications and getting insulin shots, when necessary.

Residential Programs

Residential programs are another respite care option for short-term, overnight or emergency assistance. This type of care is offered through hospitals, nursing or group homes. An overnight stay in one of these facilities usually is not covered by most medical insurance. Long-term care insurance and veterans programs, however, may offset some of the cost.

The important thing to remember about respite care is just how important it is. If caregivers do not take care of themselves how will they be able to take care of someone else?

Written by Home Care Expert Mary S. Yamin-Garone

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