As a caregiver for a senior loved one, your days are likely stressful and demanding. Medication management, meal preparation, laundry, transportation, bathing, and grooming are just a few of the many tasks most caregivers juggle each day.
Providing care and support to a spouse or parent leaves little time to run your own errands, keep up with housekeeping, or enjoy a fun evening out with friends. While the caregiving tasks may start small—for example, providing transportation to doctor’s appointments or mowing the lawn—the demands can add up over time. In fact, studies show family members may average as many as 21.9 hours of caregiving each week.
For some, this busy schedule is in addition to working at least part-time outside the home and tending to the needs of a spouse and children. While some family caregivers are able to cut back on their work hours, others aren’t. The costs of caregiving make that tough to do.
When time is short, self-care tasks, like keeping up with personal physician appointments, eating healthy, exercising, and scheduling routine health screenings, can become a low priority. The chronic stress often associated with caregiving can also have a serious impact on your health.
What Is Respite Care for the Elderly?
When you don’t take breaks on a routine basis, caregiver burnout can occur. It may cause a variety of health issues for the caregiver. A few of the most common include headaches, back injuries, digestive problems, unhealthy weight gain, and depression.
Few family caregivers realize how important it is to find the right balance between caregiving and self-care. Health professionals suggest caregivers take time off for themselves as an integral part of their senior loved one’s care plan. After all, if you experience a health crisis of your own, who will be able to care for your family member?
An option designed to help family caregivers like you to do just that is respite home care for elderly people. Respite relief services help older adults stay safe and well cared for while their family member takes time out to focus on their own needs.
Despite the convenience and affordability of caregiver respite programs, few families take advantage of them. According to a study conducted by the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP, only 12% of family caregivers utilize respite care. Many are simply unaware these programs exist.
Respite Care for Elderly Adults
If you are struggling to care for a family member, it may be helpful to learn more about the benefits of respite care for caregivers and the different options available. There are several types of respite care to explore and consider:
- Informal respite care at home: Ask a friend or family member to stay with your senior family member for a few hours. In addition to supporting your needs, it gives the older adult an opportunity to socialize with others. The care and social engagement this type of respite offers are especially beneficial for homebound seniors.
- Volunteer respite care programs: If you belong to a church, synagogue, or other religious organization, check to see if they have a friendly visitor program. Some have members who volunteer their time to visit older adults with a chronic health condition or disability that makes it difficult for them to leave home. For a senior who was previously an active participant of their religious organization, this connection can be meaningful.
- Respite at a senior living community: A short-term stay at an assisted living or memory care community is another choice for respite. Respite guests have access to the same care, services, and amenities as long-term residents of the community. The senior stays at the community for a few days or weeks, typically no longer than a month.
- In-home respite care: Home care agencies provide an older adult with a respite caregiver who visits them right in the privacy of their own living room. Some families use this service for a few hours a week, while others use overnight respite care or 24-hour respite. Most agencies offer flexible schedules to meet a senior’s unique needs. This type of respite is among the most popular. It allows the older adult to feel secure and comfortable in their own home while giving their loved ones peace of mind about their security.
In-Home Respite Care
Finding an in-home respite care partner you can trust takes a little time and effort. You’ll want to make sure the agency you choose has procedures in place for completing background checks, as well as a plan to keep caregivers’ skills updated.
Begin by calling agencies near you and asking them a few basic questions, such as:
- Does the agency utilize permanent employees or rely on contingent or contracted workers to provide care?
- How are caregivers screened and trained? What type of background checks are conducted?
- Are employees bonded? How does the agency handle property damages or missing items?
- What happens when the primary caregiver falls ill or has a family emergency? Does the agency have enough staff to provide a substitute caregiver?
- Is there a minimum number of hours required? Within what time frame?
- What type of contract is required? Does it clearly list services and fees?
- How are caregivers supervised when they are in a client’s home?
- Can the agency provide the names and numbers of references for you to call?
- How long has the agency been in business? What is its caregiver turnover rate?
When you have narrowed your choices down to just a few agencies, the next step should be to meet in person. Whenever possible, ask to meet the respite caregiver who would be responsible for your family member’s care. It’s the best way to determine if the agency and its care team members are a good fit for your loved one.
The bottom line is that in-home respite care services can give family caregivers the break they need to protect themselves from burnout and other health issues. If you haven’t taken advantage of respite care before, or if you would like to learn more, we invite you to call the Griswold Home Care location nearest you. One of our experts will be happy to help!