My family and I are winding up a whirlwind 14-day prospective-college tour throughout the southeast and mid-Atlantic and begin our journey home. As soon as we land back home, I will barely get our travel clothes into the washer when I will climb back into the car and head over to my mother’s house to continue my role as family caregiver. And vacation has ended.
I was a bit reticent to take such a long break. I haven’t been away for such a long stretch of time since I became, along with my brother, my elderly mother’s primary caregiver so many years ago. But sometimes circumstances arise (or—dare I say it—sometimes even family caregivers need a break) that take us away from our senior loved ones for an extended period.
Respite care for family caregivers
Just because a family caregiver is gone doesn’t mean the senior needs any less help. No one is advocating that a senior “goes it alone” for the duration. However, that will be a great fear for the senior who may be worried, “Who will take care of me?”
Planning respite care should be a part of your trip planning itself. To help alleviate any anxieties, discuss your travel plans with your loved one and assure them that together, you will work out the details necessary for whatever care they will need and with which they will be comfortable. Discuss the options based on level of care needed.
Most times your elderly loved one will be most comfortable staying at home. If the senior is relatively independent, sometimes part-time caregiving can be be cobbled together from a variety of sources. You can enlist friends and neighbors, church volunteers or other willing family members to provide companionship during your absence (make sure they know how to reach you while you are away.) Fill the pantry and fridge so store trips won’t be necessary. If your elderly loved one doesn’t feel comfortable cooking hot meals, you can hire a meal service. Check to see if Meals on Wheels is available in your area. Make sure all medication prescriptions are filled. A medical alert system is not a bad idea if the senior is sometimes home alone, even if you are not on vacation.
If a higher level of care is necessary, you can hire a professional caregiver through a reliable senior home care agency. Caregiverlist works with only the most quality home health agencies to provide non-medical professional caregivers to assist with ADLs and C.N.A.s who can provide some basic medical care. These caregivers go through a rigorous screening process that includes criminal background check. They are insured and bonded and are actively managed by a direct supervisor or manager. In-home care costs can range from $15 - $25 per hour for hourly care and $150 - $350 per day for 24-hour live-in care.
There are many assisted living communities that can provide furnished apartments for temporary senior care on-site. Temporary residents enjoy the same level of available care as permanent residents and have access to all the available amenities such as meals, medication management, transportation, activities, and security. $15 - $25 per hour for hourly care and $150 - $350 per day for 24-hour live-in care. According to 2012 Genworth.com data ,temporary care respite stays are usually less than one month long, and can cost between $75 to $200 per day. A Geriatric Care Manager can help you navigate all your available options, as well as inform you on how best to pay for respite care.
As summer winds down, your family vacations are probably behind you. However, family caregiving, while rewarding, can be highly stressful and lead to caregiver burnout. A family caregiver should take much needed time off and, while perhaps furloughs will be shorter in duration, the need for respite care will be no less. Consider following the same guidelines for abbreviated breaks. And remember, ski season will be soon upon us!