Providing care for an aging loved one can be a rewarding experience. However, the constant care can present many challenges for family caregivers. Fortunately, respite care — also known as short-term stays — at an assisted living community can provide caregivers a chance to take a break from their daily care routine and manage other responsibilities in their life, says Lindsay Redin, Executive Director of The Ivy at Ellington.
Respite Care in Assisted Living
Many assisted living communities offer short-term stay apartments. Respite care visitors at The Ivy at Ellington 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
- Daily programs, including bowling, movie nights, shopping outings, bus trips, spa days, and live music
Typically, respite stays last for a minimum of 30 days or a maximum of 90 days, Redin says.
Reasons for Respite Care
Here are some of the reasons that cause family caregivers to opt for respite care.
Caregivers commonly use respite care when they need to travel for work or vacation. “The most common reason for respite care is for family members who are direct caregivers to their loved one but are traveling out of town and cannot leave their loved one home alone while they are gone,” Redin says.
Test the Waters
Respite care not only provides caregivers a temporary rest from caregiving but also a chance for their loved one to test the waters of 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, in this case, is a great way for your loved one to feel like they are a bit more in control of the process of moving into assisted living,” Redin adds. “They also feel like there is very little financial commitment and very little energy that needs to go into the move. They literally pack a bag and arrive at their well-appointed one-bedroom apartment with all the furnishings and amenities we have to offer.”
Sickness or Injury
Families may also consider respite care if their loved one has had a recent injury — say a broken leg. They no longer need to be in the hospital, but their house is not conducive to life with a broken leg.
“In this case, respite becomes a tremendous option as we are able to offer favorable living spaces as well as provide any personal care needs that arise from the injury,” Redin says. “All the while, they benefit from the social aspects of assisted living.”
Another common reason for respite care is if there is a health crisis.
“We have had folks that are in crisis out of state but their children live nearby,” Redin says. “Respite allows them a quick transition to the area and the flexibility to move into their own apartment in a more desirable time frame for them.”
Having “The Talk” About Respite Care
Change is difficult at any age but can be particularly difficult when it concerns older adults. The choice to stay at home or move into an assisted living community can be difficult emotionally for both the older adult and their family. That’s why a short-term respite stay is a great option.
“In my experience, approaching the subject of respite care with a loved one has always gone smoothly,” Redin says. “It requires just a 30-day commitment, no strings attached. There is not an overwhelming feeling of coordinating a move; literally, a suitcase of clothes and toiletries is all that is needed.”
“Respite is a way to ease the transition of moving to assisted living for those that seem a bit overwhelmed by the process,” she continues. “Once they are here, they become engaged with the community through activities, staff, and fellow residents. They now feel a part of the community and welcome the move into their own apartment.”
Help your loved one understand respite care. Keep the focus on the needs of your loved one. Talk about their safety and overall health, and discuss the ways respite services could improve your relationship, enhance their overall care, and discover new things.
Be honest about your needs, too. Tell them that it doesn’t change anything between you two, but that a temporary break will actually be better for both of you over the long term. A break now can ward off burnout later by empowering caregivers to regain a sense of balance in their lives.
Ultimately, respite care is a great opportunity for you to take care of yourself while your loved one spends time with other caring individuals.