For caregivers of all kinds, respite care can be a valuable part of the caregiving plan. Discover the benefits of respite care with info from Seniorly.
Whether an older adult lives independently, with family, or in an assisted living community, there are likely caregivers who support them in their aging journey. While some of these are professional caregivers, friends and family often play a very significant role in the caregiving and care management of older adults.
These family caregivers are often thrust into a new and sometimes confusing world. From coordinating doctor’s appointments to managing the labyrinth of insurance or Medicaid, those in a family caregiving role bear enormous responsibility for the health and wellbeing of older adults. And these increased duties can also impact the physical and mental health of the caregiver. Indeed, the National Institute of Health reported that this “invisible work” takes a toll on the caregiver. From managing emotional and physical stress to increased financial burden and reduced productivity at work, unpaid caregivers experience real change in their lives when they are committed to a caregiving or care management role.
Respite care is a short-term approach to managing a change in the caregiving routine, and is a sensible and often underutilized method of providing rest for unpaid caregivers. Respite care can be delivered in a home environment (by engaging in-home services) or in a more structured senior living environment such as an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility. Medical respite can also be provided for tasks that the caregiver might not be physically able to perform such as assisting with bathing or physical therapy. In all cases, it usually includes support with activities of daily living but can also include the support of skilled nursing for more complicated medical care.
Caregivers are sometimes reluctant to receive assistance or support in their caregiving duties because they feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility for their care recipients. Some caregivers use respite care to cover planned vacation or any other foreseeably busy time, such as a big deadline at work, a planned surgery for the caregiver, or even just when a family caregiver might need a break from daily responsibility. Indeed, a study on respite care for caregivers of dementia patients found that respite care can provide a “reset” after significant events, such as diagnosis or other events.
Most assisted living communities or skilled nursing facilities will offer some kind of respite care solution. You can also use an online resource like the National Respite Network to search for respite care providers. After all, it’s a wonderful way to “test the waters” of senior living. If you’d like to explore a structured respite stay, here are five tips:
While respite care is a wonderful option, it tends to be time-bound and short-term. There are also some great options for incorporating more regular support for caregivers:
Adult day care centers. Research cites adult day care as a valuable resource for caregivers. These structured programs provide regular support for engagement and socialization, and reliable opportunities for caregiver breaks - whether that is used for rest, exercise or running errands. If you are a member of the paid workforce, check with your human resources department. Some employer benefits will cover adult day care fees.
Volunteerism. For the civic-minded and others, volunteerism can provide purpose, engagement and activity for the care recipient and time off for the caregiver.. Check out AmeriCorps Seniors to find opportunities in your area.
Companion Care. Search your area for companion care solutions. Some local providers will offer resources to visit with your care recipient. Even these small supports can reduce the sometimes overwhelming feeling of responsibility the caregiver manages.
The main benefit of respite care – across the board – is that it enables the family caregiver to reset. Sometimes older adults may need more care than what can be accommodated in their own homes, especially as we age. And although elderly loved ones can be cherished members of a household, there might be times when they need more care, or when their caregivers simply need a break. Respite care helps both patients and usual caregivers to ensure everyone’s needs are met efficiently.
Emma Rodbro is Seniorly’s Head of Product Experience & Operations. Emma’s passion for reducing social isolation in aging populations was undoubtedly influenced by her own experience as a teenager and spending time with her grandfather. Emma went on to earn her Bachelor or Arts in Public Health and Sociology from Brown University and holds a Master’s of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley. When she’s not at work, Emma is a volunteer at DOROT, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the challenges of an aging population.
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