More than 54 million people provide unpaid care to an aging or disabled loved one. For primary caregivers, the physical and emotional toll can lead to caregiver fatigue and caregiver burnout, especially around the holidays. For caregivers, it is important to practice selfcare. For those being cared for, a much-needed break from the daily routine can be a welcome diversion from the realities of needing constant care. It is often challenging for both parties to take time away due to feelings of guilt or even a perceived lack of time.
Respite care is a vital resource for caregivers. Many senior living communities offer respite care programs, typically at Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing facilities, and commonly available on a daily or monthly basis. A respite stay provides that needed break from the day-to-day demands of caregiving while offering peace of mind that loved ones are being well cared-for in a safe environment. Furthermore, experts say utilizing respite care on a routine basis will only make better caregivers. So, are you ready for some much-needed selfcare? Here are six helpful tips to guide the process and achieve the gift of respite with peace of mind.
Honesty is the best policy.
Be honest with your loved one… and yourself. You must first be willing to accept the fact you simply can’t do it all and recognize the need for selfcare, rest, and rejuvenation. Once you’ve done that, start the process by having an honest conversation with your loved one. Reassure them that respite is only a short-term stay, and not a sneaky way to move them to an assisted living community. Perhaps, it might help to refer to it as a mini vacation or even a “trial stay” to reiterate that this isn’t permanent – unless they want it to be.
Highlight the positives.
There are plenty of positives to focus on! Just like an all-inclusive vacation stay, your loved one will enjoy a comfortably furnished, private living space with well-balanced meals, and plenty of community activities in which to participate. In addition, there is 24/7 caregiver support, emergency call systems to summon for help if needed, medication assistance, and much more. Make sure your loved one understands that respite guests enjoy the same access to support and amenities as long-term residents of the community do.
Select dates carefully.
Team up with the senior living community staff to see what activities and events are coming up that might be of special interest to your loved one. By carefully timing the respite stay, you can help them see how active and vibrant senior communities can be.
Choosing a community.
It is very important to involve your loved one in the process from the beginning. See if there are any specific communities they want to check out. Ask if they know friends residing at a community or see if their doctor has a recommendation. Take them to visit communities of interest, encourage them to ask questions, and allow them to make the final decision on which community they’d like to try.
Pack a few favorites.
While you won’t want to go overboard, do pack some favorite possessions. Family photos, favorite snacks, an iPad, a few books, just to name a few. Just enough that the respite suite can look and feel more like home.
Be sure to communicate with the Respite team at the senior living community and give them some personal insight into your loved one. The more they know, the better they can assist them in navigating the community, introduce your loved one to residents with shared interests, and explore activities in which to participate.
Respite care programs are accessible and convenient, yet only 12% of family caregivers take advantage of them according to a study by the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP. Lack of time and feelings of guilt play a part in its underutilization, and most caregivers are unaware that respite care programs even exist.
To find a respite care near you, call your local senior living community or Google Respite Care in your area. St. Mark Village is proud to offer respite care programs at both the Nebraska Avenue and Highland Lakes campuses. Our short-term respite stays are a popular and affordable service with caregivers, older adults and their families, providing peace of mind and support whenever needed. Call us at (727) 464-1750 to learn more.