About a year ago, a man and his elderly aunt walked into the Arbors at Winthrop for a tour of the assisted living community. His aunt had started to have memory issues, so they were exploring their options.
The Arbors at Winthrop director of marketing, Ashley Harris, showed the man and his aunt around the beautiful seaside community, stopping by one window to show them the panoramic view of the outer harbor and another to show them the beautiful Boston skyline. She walked them around the community living room, the pub, the outdoor courtyard and patios, the library and spent time answering every single one of their questions.
“But after the tour, I thought, ‘I’m never going to talk to him again,’” Harris remembers thinking. She could sense the nephew was unsure, maybe feeling guilty because he thought the move to assisted living meant he’s not a good caregiver or that he failed in his duty to care for his aunt.
“I tried to help as much as possible,” Harris says. “I started sending him articles about respite care and what senior living is really all about. I finally got him to be comfortable with the idea of a respite stay. He really wanted to make sure he was making the right decisions for his aunt.”
Respite care services are helpful if your loved one is considering making the move to assisted living. It provides them with the chance to interact with others having similar experiences, spend time in a safe and supportive environment, and participate in social activities.
Respite Stays: Testing the Waters of Assisted Living
Respite care provides caregivers a temporary rest from caregiving while their loved one gets to test the waters of assisted living. Also known as short-term stays, respite care visitors receive the same comforts and amenities as assisted living residents, including:
- A private apartment with a modern kitchenette, walk-in shower, and spacious living room
- Assistance with activities of daily living, including medication management
- Anytime restaurant-style dining from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Daily programs, including bowling, movie nights, shopping outings, bus trips, spa days, and live music
“The staff embrace respite stay residents as if they’re a new resident,” says Alicia Dessereau, marketing director at the Arbors at Westfield. “Our resident care assistants will walk them to the dining room. We knock on their door to get them to come downstairs. We pull them out into the community.”
Dessereau tells a story about Janet, who was very hesitant about assisted living. Instead of moving straight into an assisted living apartment, she started in respite care at the Arbors. It wasn’t long before “Janet was downstairs playing the piano having a great time,” Dessereau says. “It was one of those ‘Wow, I really like my job’ moments.”
Janet officially moved into her assisted living apartment in mid-August — and she loves it.
Come On In, the Water’s Fine!
To get the nephew comfortable with a respite stay, Harris brought him to a caregiver seminar that helped him see that moving a loved one to assisted living doesn’t mean that he’s failed to take care of them. Rather, it means he’s making a smart decision to get his aunt the level of care she needs. It wasn’t long before his aunt came for a short-term stay in a respite apartment at the Arbors at Winthrop.
Harris offers an update: “She just moved into our Reflections memory care community and is absolutely thriving. We coached the nephew through it and helped him feel like he wasn’t alone. It was a huge relief for him. He just went back to being the nephew.”
That’s the great thing about respite care: It allows the family caregiver to experience comfort and peace of mind knowing that their loved one is spending time with other caring individuals.
“Our community is a big extended family. I have like 86 grandparents here,” Harris says. “Respite residents blend right in. Residents take them under their wing. It’s awesome to see people come into our community after a significant crisis and just transform. It’s due to the family environment here. They immediately dive right in.”
If you want to learn more about the benefits of respite care for the elderly and their caregivers at The Arbors, download our eBook How Moving My Loved One to the Arbors Eliminated My Caregiving Challenges.