Caregivers Need a Vacation Too: Respite Care Can Help
Caregiving can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be completely exhausting. Like any job that requires us to work closely with other people – including those we love dearly – it’s important to take time off for personal refreshment. In fact, it’s a best practice to take time off before becoming burnt out. After all, rest is a better plan than recovery. As Benjamin Franklin so aptly put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Bottom line: We have the greatest capacity to make a difference in the lives of other people when we are the best version of ourselves. While it can take some time to adjust to the idea of accepting help, it can be one of the most beneficial and healthy decisions we make.
If you are a caregiver, consider the following 5 ways respite care can help you take some much-needed time off:
5 Ways Respite Care Can Help
1. Check with family members first.
The best place to start when looking for respite opportunities is with family members. If you are caring for your aging parents, for instance, start by talking to your siblings. Explain your need for some time off and share a plan of action for them to consider. Your success as a care taker ultimately benefits your family members, so viewing your respite as a group effort (and not something for which you should feel guilt) is essential.
2. Look for a licensed home care aide.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice maintains a comprehensive database of agencies that can assist you with respite services. While hiring a licensed home care aide can certainly cost more money than finding a family member to help out for a few days, it can give you peace of mind that a licensed professional is giving sufficient care in your absence. Especially if your loved one has significant physical or cognitive needs, a home care aide may be the right solution for your respite plans. Note: It is a good idea to invite a potential caretaker into the home for a few hours well in advance of your time away so you can observe the interaction between them and your family member to be certain the caretaker is a good fit. How you feel about leaving your job in someone else’s hands will directly affect the quality of your time away.
3. Research professional facilities.
Check with the assisted living residences, nursing homes, and hospital rehab facilities in your area to see if they offer respite options for the short-term. Sometimes assisted living communities offer overnight options for seniors who need a place to stay. Even an overnight option can give you the time you need to celebrate a special event, recover from illness, or catch up on errands with the peace of mind that your loved one is in good hands in a skilled environment with the proper emergency response systems in place. Talk to your doctor about available options as he or she may be able to recommend specific services in the community.
Hint: Sometimes professional facilities accept Medicaid, Veteran’s benefits, or grants/state funding. Be sure to ask if they accept any coverage.
4. Look for an elder companion.
Elder companions, also known as companions / homemakers, can help with household chores while providing companionship. Elder companions are not trained to provide personal care, such as bathing, grooming or dressing. While this option doesn’t give you much time away, it does lend a hand with tasks like housekeeping, laundry, and shopping. Sometimes more frequent breaks can be as beneficial as one long break from caretaking. Consider choosing one day each week when you can take advantage of an elder companion to help with care taking. Check with your local senior center as sometimes volunteers exist to help as elder companions. Another option, in this regard, is to look for friends in the community who also serve as caretakers to see if you can trade off responsibilities and opportunities to take some time off.
5. Consider adult day services.
Also known as adult day care, this option provides social activities, transportation, meals, and other services. This option has improved dramatically–especially in recent years–as demand has increased and funding has improved to make the options more enjoyable for everyone involved. This option is especially beneficial for people who need health services or therapeutic options. Adults with Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, or developmental disabilities can take advantage of day services without leaving you concerned that needs will go unmet in your absence.
The National Respite Network helps caregivers identify respite opportunities in their community. This can be a good place to begin when searching for the right solution to meet the specific need.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, after you make plans to take some respite time, do not allow yourself to feel guilty about it. By nature of the fact that you are a caretaker in need of respite, it is clear that you are dedicated to what you do. Allowing yourself to feel guilty about taking a break will interfere with your rest, and rejuvenation necessary to make you the best caretaker you can be.
Here at The Brielle, we understand how seriously you take your job as care taker and we applaud you. We also understand your need to take care of your own needs so that you can better meet the needs of your loved one. Which is why we’ve designed a short stay program with you in mind. Whether you need two weeks or two months, we want to help. You help others. Give us a call today and ask how we can help you!