When you are the primary caregiver of someone with a disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, it is normal to need a break from the stress and pressure at times. Something many families do not think of, but is a valuable resource, is respite care. Caring for someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, can be very demanding on your mental and physical health.
Taking a break and allowing someone else to step in and give temporary care is an excellent way to recharge, relax, and be refreshed. It is also beneficial to the patient as well, because they have an opportunity to spend time in a structured environment, specifically tailored to the needs of patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Respite care also allows the patient an opportunity to interact with other people and be more active, away from their daily normal schedule to be a part of activities specifically designed for the type of environment and needs.
What Types of Respite Care are Available?
There are several types of respite care available to families needing an opportunity to relax or to give emergency care for unplanned events. Before using any service, you should try the services out in a non-emergency situation. Ask friends and acquaintances for referrals to services they may have used in the past.
Another excellent resource is the patient’s doctor. Contact their doctor and ask for any recommendations for respite care providers in the area. Once you have gotten your referrals, check out the type of respite care given. There are three types of respite care common in healthcare. In-home services, adult day care centers, and short-term residential facilities offer options for families needing a temporary solution.
In-home services are the most versatile of the respite care services. These can include companionship services, home health aides, skilled care for medication, and home services to assist with cleaning, preparing meals, and doing additional housework. Adult day care centers are places that allow the patient to spend time with other people also affected with similar neurological disorders. This allows for a structured environment, activities, meals, and often transportation are also provided.
Finally, residential facilities offer an option for overnight stays. These are short-term facilities which can give the caregiver a break of one night up to several weeks if needed, for unplanned trips and emergencies. The only downside to some of these services, is that you might end up paying out of pocket, as Medicare and most insurance policies do not cover this type of care.
Obstacles to Respite Care
Once families find out about additional resources such as respite care, they may become nervous about trying something new for their loved one. This is normal and all families go through this type of emotional roller coaster when considering their options.
There are a couple of concerns that are common amongst families when making this a consideration. Cost is the number one concern. There is financial assistance available to families if you know where to look for it. You can contact your local Alzheimer’s Association to find out the types of financial assistance available for respite care in your area.
Families are also concerned about the reliability of care when compared to the care that they are being given by the family. So that family members feel more secure in their choice, they should thoroughly vet the qualifications of the agency and its providers. Each provider should be trained and certified, with references available.
The final obstacle to respite care is a feeling of guilt. Caregivers often think they can do it all and never need a break. While this is a noble thought, it is not close to the truth. All caregivers need an opportunity to relax and refresh.
Just because you are seeking assistance for a short time does not mean you are a failure or that you cannot take care of the patient yourself. It only means that you need help and it is important to remember that respite care can be a blessing and benefit to the patient as well.