Caring for an elderly loved one at home can be incredibly rewarding for everyone in the family, but it can also be exhausting and stressful. Respite care provides an opportunity for all parties to take a break, get some space from each other, and renew their commitment to what really matters—loving each other.
There are four main types of respite care:
1. Short term residential care
When people hear the term “residential care” they immediately think of a permanent arrangement, but many retirement homes also offer short term stays. The home will work with you and your loved one to create a customized care plan that meets their needs. Many facilities allow temporary residents to stay for anywhere from two days to one month.
Short term residential care has a myriad of benefits for both parties. For starters, it ensures that your loved one receives the best possible care so you don’t have to worry. It also allows you to maximize space, giving you a much needed opportunity to focus on your own life. And it gives your loved one a chance to socialize with other seniors and see what life might be like in permanent care.
This type of care can be quite expensive, but there are several government subsidies that can help you afford it.
2. Paid home help
The second—and perhaps most common—option for respite care is paid home help. This can take the form of a Personal Support Worker who comes in twice a week or a full time live-in caregiver. You can also set it up as either a temporary arrangement or a long term contract.
Getting paid home help gives you the respite you need while also allowing your loved one to stay in the house. The right caregiver can also serve as a friend to your loved one, extending their social circle and reducing the impacts of isolation.
Paid home help can also be as affordable or as expensive as you want, depending on the amount of care provided. For most families this is a much more realistic option, especially as it alleviates stress in the long term, allowing you and your loved one to live your best lives.
3. Sitting/befriending services
If you’re struggling financially you may be eligible for a charitable sitting/befriending services. These services bring a fully trained caregiver into your home for a few hours, allowing you to go out and enjoy a movie or anything else your heart desires. Most are free or offer highly subsidized rates.
A sitting/befriending service offers the same benefits as paid home help, but without the expense. The one drawback is that you won’t have as much control over when the care is provided, because the service providers usually work other jobs.
It should also be noted that finding these programs is much easier in cities. You may not be able to access one if you live in a rural area.
4. Get your loved one involved in new activities
Many places offer events and activities specifically for seniors, and there are often trained caregiving staff on site. You will probably have to drop your loved one off at the venue and pick them up when the activity’s over, but the duration of the activity is your time. Getting your loved one into two or three activities can give you several hours of freedom every week.
This solution is also particularly powerful because it gives your loved one an opportunity to make new friends. Isolation is one of the biggest issues seniors face, and getting them involved in a couple activities a week is a great way to combat that issue. Most of these activities are designed to be affordable or free so seniors can actually attend, and they are often available in retirement homes.