Are you a caregiver for a loved one? When’s the last time you took a day off? How about a weekend? Can you remember your last vacation? Respite care can provide not only the break you might want, but the break your body needs.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is temporary relief from regular caregiver responsibilities. It can be as short or long as you require depending on your personal needs and can be regularly scheduled or a onetime break. Regularly scheduled respite can be helpful for caregivers like you to ensure you are taking breaks and caring for yourself. This allows you to return feeling refreshed and able to take on the responsibilities of care.
As a family member and caregiver, you likely have very little time off and may even be with your loved one around the clock. This can lead to improper care of your own health. In order to provide required care, it is pertinent that you are both physically and mentally healthy. Being physically or mentally unhealthy can lead to a negative care environment as well as a decrease in ability to give proper and safe care to your loved one.
According to Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, respite care can also have many uses for your dependent loved one. This care may provide a holiday or rehabilitation for the dependent individual. Respite care may also be used to prepare or assess your loved one for long-stay care1.
The ideal outcome of respite care includes a reduction in the stress of your loved one’s primary caregiver which will in turn allow your loved one to remain in the community longer, maintain a healthy relationship between you and your loved one, and to receive better care while in the community2.
Respite Care Options:
Informal Family Support
One option for respite care is informal family support. If you simply need an hour or an afternoon off once in a while, you can get other family members or friends involved in the care of your loved one. These individuals can offer your loved one companionship as well as assistance with activities of daily life. Because your loved one likely knows and trusts these individuals, they can easily be added into the care routine.
Volunteer or Paid Caregiver
Another option for respite care is to hire a volunteer or paid caregiver to stay with your loved one while you are away. These individuals can assist your loved one with activities of daily life and can also offer companionship similar to family and friends. Volunteer or paid caregivers have likely been in similar situations before and understand your need for a break.
Residential Respite Care
Local authority or private residential homes are often available for short-term respite care. This allows your loved one to stay in a homey environment rather than a hospital setting during your respite period. Residential respite care can also take place at your loved one’s home, in the form of a short-term live in nurse1.
Adult Day Center
Adult day centers can offer regular respite care during the daytime hours and are designed to provide services to the elderly and adults who require long-term care. These facilities can be used on a daily basis or only as needed to provide respite to you. Adult day centers provide a social experience along with care and activities for your loved one. Centers are generally small in size, allowing for individualized attention for all attendees and consistent stimulation. Many individuals who take advantage of adult day centers do so on a regular schedule, allowing attendees to form bonds with others facing similar disabilities.
Care facilities such as nursing homes or specialized respite facilities can provide temporary care including overnight services. Many of these facilities have healthcare professionals on staff that can assist your loved one with any medical needs, along with staff members who are able to assist with activities of daily life. These facilities can allow you to take several days or weeks off in order to relax and refresh before returning to your caregiver responsibilities. Care facilities employing healthcare professionals are often able to reevaluate your loved one’s condition and needs along with providing any necessary rehabilitation2.
Respite care can and should be utilized by anyone acting as a caregiver, usually to a family member. Caregiver responsibilities can be a lot to take on alone and you should be sure to take adequate breaks and have concern not only for your loved one, but also for yourself.
1Vetter, N. (2002). Respite care. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, 12(2), 181-186.
2Maayan, N., Soares-Weiser, K., & Lee, H. (2014). Respite care for people with dementia and their carers. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 1, 1-47.