As a caregiver, it is sometimes hard to feel that it is OK to take a break, especially when it means being away from our loved one for more than a few hours.
One caregiver told me “it almost felt like a sin.”
However, as this same caregiver went on to say, “but I really needed it and when I came back I felt like I had more patience, more energy and that I took time to really be there instead of just phoning it in.”
This summer I challenge you to take a break and to look into the world of respite care. Respite care is something that is often confused with a type of end-of-life care, which is the exact opposite of what it is. In fact, it would be better to refer to respite care is “bring the caregiver back-to-life care.”
Respite care is a short-term care arrangement that allows the primary caregiver to take a break and it gives those we care for a break from us!
In truth respite care is done whenever another caregiver is able to come and provide the care the primary caregiver would be giving. Therefore, you are probably already using a form of respite if you have a neighbor come, friend or family come to stay with your loved one so that you can run errands or go away for a weekend.
However, there are benefits to working with a professional agency to provide the actual respite care for your loved. These agencies have trained caregivers; they are usually bonded or certified and carry workers-compensation insurance for their employees. That way if someone were to get hurt in your home or while caring for your loved one the agency would be held liable and not you or your loved one. This type of care can be provided in the home or outside of the home through a companionship or home health type agency. In addition, this type of assistance can be set-up a few hours a week to multiple hours every day.
In addition, respite care can also come in the form of Adult Day services, which is a place where your loved one can go for activities, lunch and socialization during the normal workday hours. This is a wonderful way for your loved one to remain socially active and it can allow you to continue working or have some daytime hours completely free.
Some Assisted Livings and Nursing Homes can also offer respite care depending on their current occupancy. This type of respite care is especially nice if you are planning to take an extended break of a week or more and if you are currently trying to determine of your loved one would benefit from this type of care.
Payment for these types of services is usually paid privately or can sometimes be covered under a person’s Long-Term Care Insurance or in some instances through their publicly-funded long-term care program. In addition, there are programs offered through your county’s Aging and Disability Resource Center such as the National Family Caregiver Support Program or National Alzheimer’s Family Caregiver Support Program that can help pay for respite care. Lastly, it is a good idea to check with your county’s Veterans Service Office, as they are also able to provide payment assistance.
It is OK to take a break from caregiving and summer is the perfect time to do it. Therefore, if you are invited to your Niece’s wedding or want to attend your high school reunion look into respite care! Remember the journey of caregiving is a marathon and even runners need a break to win the race.