We are in the midst of our third Powerful Tools of Caregiver class offering, and I am reminded again of the importance of self care for caregivers. As primary caregivers, it is likely you will experience higher degrees of stress, exhaustion, and are more prone to illness. It is important to make your health a priority, and self-care is key. Self-care can take many forms, but one resource that is not utilized often enough (in my opinion) is Respite Care. Respite Care is when someone else is put in place to cover the needs of your care recipient so that you can get a break from your caregiving responsibilities. Respite Care can also be used for individuals needing additional support following hospital discharge. Respite Care can be short term (one or two nights) or up to as long as 30 days.
Respite Care can take place in a variety of forms:
Care in the home: Caregiving support can be provided by in-home care agencies or can be coordinated with the help of family, friends, or neighbors.
Residential Settings: Some Assisted Living communities offer short term respite stays (length of time is dependent upon availability but typically ranges from 2-3 days to up to 30 days).
Adult Day Care: Adult day centers are facilities designed to provide care to older adults who cannot live at home unsupervised. They offer meals as well as a variety of social activities. These can provide relief for family members knowing that their loved ones are cared for during the day. Some settings provide overnight respite in conjunction with Adult Day Care (depending on the facility).
Individuals using respite at either an Adult Day or Residential setting who are receiving services such as physical or occupational therapy can be seen by these providers on site, just as they would at home. Staff would also be on site to provide medication management.
Respite care is an invaluable resource that can bring a much needed break to those caring for loved ones. Unfortunately, it can often be accompanied by feelings of guilt. Seeking Respite care does not make you weak or a failure as a caregiver. It can be helpful to remind yourself that your ultimate goal in using respite care is so that you can maintain your health (both physical and mental) and continue your caregiving. Utilizing Respite Care is a short term investment (in yourself) in order to receive a long term care benefit (the quality of care you will be providing).
If you'd like to learn more about Respite Care, the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center is a wealth of information, including a national respite locator as well as assistance in locating possible public funding sources for Respite Care.