Being the primary caregiver of a senior is exhausting. Especially if your loved one has a difficult disease like Alzheimer’s, mobility issues, or both. And it’s even harder if you’re a member of the sandwich generation who also has kids to take care of.
Caregiver stress is a serious issue. Without the occasional break or finding forms of self-care that help reduce the stress, you’re likely to find yourself with health problems down the line because of the strain. That means that you should not feel guilty asking for a break when you need it. Seriously, it’s not selfish. It’s important.
And you do have options to make sure your loved one still receives the care they need while you take your well-earned break.
Respite Care Can Help
Respite care is the term used to describe any temporary form of care that takes the place of a primary caregiver for a set amount of time. If there’s a friend or family member that can pick up the slack for a bit while you take a break, that can solve the problem, but many caregivers will struggle to find someone who can manage that. Instead, in most cases they need to look toward professional respite care, of which there are several options.
Types of Respite Care to Consider
If friends and family can’t help, you have a few main commercial options to consider.
In-home care is probably the option least likely to disrupt your loved one’s current routine. A trained care specialist can be hired to come into their home and provide the main services they need for a set number of hours during the day. Any activities of daily living a caregiver helps with can be taken over by this professional for the length of time the caregiver needs to get their rest.
Adult Day Care Centers
Adult day care does require getting the senior out of their own home, but it gives them an opportunity to socialize with other seniors during the day while also having access to staff members who can help out with the needs caregivers often help with. Someone will still need to get the senior to and from the center during the day, but you can trust they’ll have someone to take care of them while they’re there and a number of ways to stay busy and social as well.
Temporary Stays at Residential Facilities
Some assisted living communities provide an option for temporary stays. If your loved one needs full-time care for the time you’re taking off, checking with your local facilities to see which ones provide this option may be your best bet. This is likely to be the most expensive option, but it also provides the most comprehensive form of care of the three.
How to Find a Trustworthy Respite Care Solution
Recognizing that you need respite care and committing to finding the care you need is the first step, but you still face the challenge of finding the specific care provider that’s right for you and your loved one. To help you make an informed decision and single in on the choice that’s best, there are a few steps you should take.
Ask for referrals.
Talk to people you and your loved one know and trust. If any of them have direct experience with local senior care facilities, in-home care companies, or adult day care centers, their input will be valuable to identifying the ones in your area that have the best reputation. A recommendation from a trusted friend makes it possible to skip some of these other steps and more quickly get to the point of meeting your potential temporary replacement.
Search what’s available in your area.
If there’s no clear option based on the recommendations you get from friends and family, then turn to the internet. You can search respite care options by geographic region or do some Googling to see what companies in each category are located close to you. You can start compiling a list of your potential options here, but you’ll want to do some work to narrow them down. Knowing how much you want to pay for respite care may influence your decision.
The next best thing to recommendations from friends is reading about the experiences of other seniors and their loved ones online. Reviews (like those you find on Senior Advisor) can tell you a lot about how people feel about the respite care providers in your area and the kinds of issues that are common with them, if any. This is the stage where you can narrow your potential options by weeding any out that have less than stellar reviews.
Meet and interview caregivers in advance.
The most important final step in the process is to actually meet with the person or people who will be caring for your loved one in your absence. You want to get a feel for their personality, their level of skill and experience, and look for any potential red flags that might suggest they won’t be a good fit for your loved one. Go into the meeting with a list of questions for them and a description of the responsibilities you usually take on each day so they have an idea of what your loved one’s needs are.
The right respite care provider can take a load off your shoulders so you can finally rest and breathe for a while. Your loved one will be ok, and you’ll be able to provide yourself the care you need. It takes a little work to find the right respite care option, but once you do, you’ll know you have someone to turn to when you need a break again in the future as well.