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When Caregivers Need a Break! Basics of Respite Care

Meghana Giridhar - November 17, 2015 12:31 PM

The Theme for 2015 National Family Caregivers Month is Respite! Care for Caregivers. According to ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center, respite is planned or emergency care provided to a child or adult with special needs in order to provide temporary relief to family caregivers who are caring for that child or adult.

Respite care can be a boon for caregivers when they are overworked and overwhelmed. This kind of temporary break can be provided informally by family members, friends or volunteers at home or by paid professionals at home or in a formal care setting.

In-Home Services: These can vary depending on the needs of the senior being taken care of. Sometimes, respite care might only involve providing companionship to the senior while the caregiver takes a break. Supervised activities can also be included. Then there are services that require more expertise such as providing assistance with bathing, eating, dressing seniors and medication management. Other chores such as laundry, shopping for groceries and making meals for seniors can also be taken care of.

Adult Day Care Centers: These centers are areas where seniors can be in a safe environment for a few hours everyday. They get an opportunity to spend time with other seniors and participate in organized activities such as music, book reading or art programs. Meals are provided in such centers as also transportation in some cases.

Residential Facilities: These offer seniors the option of staying for a night or few days or even a few weeks in a supervised environment while the caregiver is away.

A thorough assessment of your loved ones’ needs is a good starting point in understanding what kind of respite care provider is best suited for the job. It is important to discuss and involve your elderly loved one before going ahead to look for a respite care provider. Helping them participate in the planning can be beneficial in deciding how much time a caregiver can take off and also enable them to provide their own inputs. This will make them relaxed and confident about being taken care of the right way by the new person.  

How to Choose the Right Respite Care Provider:

It is important to get as much information as possible about a potential respite care provider. It is just as vital to have clear and detailed communication regarding expectations.

The Eldercare Locator is a great place to start looking for a respite care provider. It’s a free and confidential online tool that only needs a senior’s zip code to provide detailed information on respite services in the neighborhood. These agencies would have information on programs funded under the National Family Caregiver Support Program and Medicaid. There is also the National Respite Locator Service that helps with respite services in different states and areas to match their specific needs.

The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center has provided a quick checklist as a reference point for choosing the right respite care provider.

1.    Conduct a telephone screening
2.    Follow up with an in-person Interview
3.    Ask for references
4.    Check references and do a criminal background check
5.    Evaluate costs and financing
6.    Write a contract that provides specific details

Using respite care can help caregivers expand their support network and make them stronger.

Meghana Giridhar serves as Content Manager and is part of eCareDiary's founding team. In her role, she oversees and edits content across all of eCareDiary's media platforms.

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