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IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The value of respite care: Benefits to caregivers and their loved ones

There are two priorities when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. One is providing the best care possible. The other is taking care of yourself so you are able to be there when needed. When caregivers neglect their own health, everyone is impacted.

Watching over someone with dementia or a cognitive illness can demand 24/7 attention. It also can be all-consuming, exhausting and take a physical and emotional toll. And regardless of how much you want to be there for your loved one, the body and mind have their own limitations.

This is why respite care is necessary. It provides the needed attention while helping caregivers take a break, so they can continue to be there for their loved ones.

What is respite care?

Whether it occurs at home, in an adult day center or a residential healthcare community, this is care provided by someone else. By allowing primary caregivers to take a break from their duties, they can then recharge their batteries, rest and renew their energy. But the advantages also extend to the ones being cared for.

Respite benefits for the caregiver

  1. A chance to spend time with family and friends.
  2. Opportunity to take care of the tasks that are part of normal daily life.
  3. A chance to relax and not worry, knowing your loved one is being well-cared for.
  4. Help decrease feelings of isolation.

Respite benefits for the loved one

  1. A chance to interact with others who are experiencing a similar situation.
  2. Ability to relax and know they’ll be well cared for while you’re away.
  3. A chance to participate in more activities that closely match their needs.
  4. Help decrease feelings of isolation.

Alzheimer’s Association

Types of respite care available

Respite care can be either scheduled or unscheduled. If an emergency or other unexpected event requires your attention, you’ll need help with your loved one. It’s best to be prepared ahead of any crisis and know what resources are available or have a list of names you can contact.

Find out if there are friends, family or neighbors that could help out on short notice. Make sure you have the conversations ahead of time. Keep all medical and medication information written down and on hand in case you have to leave in a hurry.

Scheduled respite care can be easier and less stressful to locate. Find out what resources are available in your area and visit each or arrange to have providers to your home beforehand so you feel comfortable with the arrangements. Other than services that come into your home, you may also find these options available locally:

Adult day centers

These centers offer a safe and supervised space for your loved one to stay during the day. Before it’s needed, visit any in your area. Look for a welcoming place that provides planned activities and programs. You may find they also offer meals and transportation.

Residential communities

Research local residential communities and inquire if they also provide temporary respite care. This option typically provides overnight care for an extended time so that you could take a vacation or have more time if needed to be away from home.

Obstacles to respite care

Even when good respite care is available, it can be hard for the caregiver to use the services. Many cite feelings of guilt as getting in the way of being able to take a break. Some say that since their loved one can’t take time off from Alzheimer’s neither should they. This isn’t productive or logical. If you experience these thoughts, address and eliminate them.

While it’s true there is no break from the disease, having respite care is not a luxury one can choose to take. It’s necessary. It’s a good reminder that if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll be less effective in caring for your loved one and in fact, may become ill and need help.

Finding the best respite care

When considering different options, you’ll want to visit the center or community or talk to several care providers. If your loved one can be present and part of the decision, this can help make both of you more comfortable when it’s time to use their services.

Asking these questions can help assist in your search:

  • For longer term needs, how many days can they provide respite? For short term, what are their hours?
  • Do they offer transportation as part of their day center’s services?
  • What services are included in their care?
  • What is the cost?
  • How much notice do they need to schedule respite care?
  • What kind of training do the caregivers have?
  • How do they evaluate their caregivers?
  • How do they keep track of medical conditions and medications?

When respite care isn’t enough

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s and other dementias are progressive illnesses. Many families will find the day will come when providing the kind of care their loved one deserves, is no longer able to occur at home. Their needs may increase to a level that the caregiver can no longer meet, even with respite care or bringing in other services.

If you are at that point, shifting to find full-time residential care is the next step. It can be a hard decision to make, but the right community will ensure that your loved one continues to receive the best care possible.

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

We understand the challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and the absolute need for respite care. It is often difficult for the caregiver to accept but true nonetheless - if you aren’t mindful of your own health, you won’t be able to care for your loved one.

Our special-trained and compassionate staff is here to provide support and strength to your family and loved one. If you find that the level of care needed is beginning to overcome what you can provide, we hope you’ll visit our community.   

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

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