Respite care is occasional rest or relief for the primary caregiver(s) of a child or adult with a chronic medical condition or disability. Caring for a child or adult with intense medical needs, behavioral challenges, or other disabilities can be mentally and physically exhausting. Parents and other caregivers need to be able to get away for a short period of time for rest or to spend time with other members of their family, such as their spouse or other children.
With respite care, you can feel safe leaving your loved one while you run errands, shop, or just relax; more extensive respite care can allow you to continue working outside your home or help you juggle caring for your children and an elderly adult. Above all, remember to keep in touch with yourself. If you are sick, exhausted, or overworked, you can’t provide good care for anyone. Caregiving is an act of love, but is also a demanding, challenging job. No one can handle it alone. Getting help for yourself is one of the best things you can do for your loved one, and it will enable you to keep giving top-quality care.
If you neglect yourself, you are putting your loved one at risk – taking time for yourself will also benefit your care recipient.
In-home services offer a wide range of options, including companion services, personal care, household assistance, and skilled nursing care to meet specific needs of those involved. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for more information about in-home services. All states also have a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association that can assist with valuable information about respite options and support for caregivers.
Respite care facilities provide overnight, weekend, and longer stays for someone so a caregiver can have longer periods of time off. These facilities provide meals, help with activities of daily living, therapeutic activities to fit the needs of residents, and a safe, supervised environment. Examples of such facilities include nursing homes, residential care facilities, and assisted living facilities.
Emergency respite is often offered in many nursing homes, residential care facilities, and assisted living facilities. Emergency respite care may be needed when a caregiver becomes ill or must go out of town unexpectedly, or if the care recipient is at risk of abuse or neglect. It is best for the caregiver to be prepared for this type of respite by finding the best facility and registering ahead of time. Each community is unique in its response to crisis respite and the elderly. Some communities have emergency guest houses for such situations, while in other communities, State Medicaid dollars will pay for emergency respite in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Adult day services provide a planned program that includes a variety of health, social, and support services in a protective setting during daytime hours. This is referred to as a “community based service” and is designed to meet the individual needs of functionally and/or cognitively impaired adults. Adult day services programming may provide:
• Social activities
• Medical help
• Mental stimulation
• Options such as bathing
• Therapies such as physical and speech
• Emotional support for both caregiver and participant
• Education for both caregiver and participant
Questions to ask about respite care programs
• How are care providers screened?
• What is the training and level of experience of the care providers?
• Will care providers need additional training to meet specific family needs?
• How, and by whom, are the care providers supervised?
• What procedures does the program have for emergencies?
• Are families limited to a certain number of hours of services?
• Does the program provide transportation?
• What is the cost of services? How is payment arranged?