When should primary caregivers use respite care?

Although the role of caregiving can be immensely rewarding, it can also be draining physically, emotionally and economically. Taking time for self-care and preventing caregiver burnout is essential both for the caregiver and the person receiving care. Respite care can offer a time to breathe, regroup, and energize for the caregiver, enabling them to be their best for their loved one.

What is respite care?

Respite care is care given to your loved one by professional caregivers, either in your home or in an assisted living facility. It is designed to help the caregiver and their loved one both mentally and physically. Choosing which care option is better for you and your loved one will depend on your needs. Do you need care during a vacation? Are you trying to see what facility care will be like before making a permanent move? Does your loved one need help with medical care? Answering these questions will help you determine what kind of help you will need.

What are the benefits of respite care for seniors?

It’s easy to see how caregivers benefit from the opportunity to take a break, but senior loved ones benefit as well. Respite care gives loved ones opportunities to socialize and meet new people. It gives them an opportunity to participate in group activities such as crafts or book discussions, exercise and dance activities. It allows the senior to be the primary focus of care and attention.

Socializing and participating in activities

Seniors who age at home, may find their access to outside activities dwindling and become isolated. Respite care can provide opportunities to meet new people, engage in new activities and rekindle interests in crafts and hobbies such as gardening. Respite care in assisted living facilities will give seniors opportunities to participate in group events that they might not otherwise get to participate in, such as movie or game nights, yoga and exercise classes, book clubs and current events discussions.

Testing the waters of senior living

Making the move to an assisted living facility can seem daunting and scary. Often, the perception is that group care is not good care. Facility sponsored respite care gives seniors and their caregivers an opportunity to see if the move to an assisted living facility would suit their needs.

Rest and relaxation

Respite care can help caregivers take some time for rest and relaxation that they might otherwise not have the opportunity for. Respite care can also provide rest and relaxation for your loved one. Seniors in respite care have opportunities to participate in wellness activities that will give them a chance to focus on their own physical and mental health. Activities such as yoga can teach mindfulness, breathing and other relaxation techniques.

Peace of mind for caregivers

Knowing that their loved one is being well cared for gives caregivers a feeling of relief and peace of mind. It allows them to take time to maintain their own sense of self outside of the role as caregiver. Professional staff who are well trained in delivering care, medications and managing other daily living activities can take the burden off the caregiver, allowing them to recharge and re-energize.

Rediscovering hobbies

While the caregiver is having a rest, respite care offers the senior an opportunity to rediscover once-loved activities or develop new ones. Group facilities offer classes in crafts, yoga and other movement classes, gardening, movie nights, book clubs and other social activities. Many facilities have common areas that are inviting places for seniors to connect with others over current events or a board game. While the senior is in respite care, caregivers have an opportunity to explore their own personal interests.

When should primary caregivers use respite care?

It can be very hard for caregivers to let go, but there are circumstances where it is important to do just that. Perhaps the most important reason to use respite care is to give yourself a break; self-care is important. You might have reasons to be out of your home – such as travel, vacation or a remodeling project. Your loved one might need respite care after surgery, before they are ready to be at home or to just give residential living a try.

To take a break and avoid burnout

It’s important for your health, the well-being of your family and your senior loved one that you take care of yourself. Burnout happens when we are overwhelmed with the amount we have to pour out of ourselves into others. You can’t pour from an empty cup or breathe if there’s no oxygen filling your lungs. Respite care, even for a short while can help you recharge those batteries and give better care in the long run.

To go on vacation

Often caregivers postpone those family vacations and other travel opportunities, in order to be there for their loved one. Respite care can relieve the anxiety of leaving a loved one while allowing the caregiver to concentrate on themselves and other family members.

To recover from a hospital stay

After a surgery or hospital stay, respite care can help manage medications, hygiene issues and provide the rest necessary for recuperation. With professional help to monitor recovery, any urgent care needs can be handled quickly and professionally, enabling your loved one time to heal and the caregiver peace of mind, knowing that their loved one can recover safely.

To catch up at home

Often caregivers have to prioritize taking care of their loved ones over other home necessary items like chores, projects or home repairs. Respite care can give the caregiver time to catch up, alleviating the stress of feeling far behind. Some in-home respite care providers can also help with light housework responsibilities, freeing up family members to handle other necessary chores.

To move or remodel

Moving or remodeling your home can be a stressful time. Often for caregivers, that remodeling is being done to accommodate a senior family member. Respite care can provide a safe and healthy environment for your loved one while packing and construction are taking place. Enabling your loved one to be in a place without dust, paint, and packing boxes while you focus on the project is a win for all.

To prepare for an emergency

Making sure that there are arrangements for emergency respite care should be an important part of any care plan for an aging loved one. While you may be prepared to give your all, the fact is that emergencies happen. Preparing arrangements ahead of time, whether it’s another family member, medical professional or facility care, will mean that your loved one’s care can continue in your absence.

How do you pay for respite care?

Costs for respite care can add up quickly so it is important to weigh all of your options and research which type of respite care will work best for you and your loved one. Insurance companies typically do not cover many respite care costs.

Medicare will cover short-term overnight stays at a hospital or skilled nursing facility after hospitalization. Medicare services for hospice care are much more substantial.

Medicaid benefits will depend upon where you live. Some states provide some respite care assistance.

Long-term care insurance will provide coverage for custodial care at home, in adult daycare or in a nursing home.

Veterans benefits for qualifying veterans and their spouses can receive monthly respite care assistance, the amount of support available may differ from state to state.

While options may be limited, it’s important to talk with your loved one’s physicians or your local nursing home facility. They may be able to make suggestions and know of local programs that can offer assistance.

Asking for help

Asking for help and preventing caregiver burnout is part of caring for our loved ones. Taking time to recharge ourselves enables us to be better caregivers in the long run. Respite care can provide new opportunities for your loved one and give you an opportunity to breathe, and connect with friends and family members in new ways.

For more information about respite care www.BartramLakes.org

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