Respite Care at Home
Providing care for an ill, elderly, or disabled family member is a rewarding but exhausting job. The responsibilities of caregiving never stop, and too many people shoulder these responsibilities alone. Needing support in your role as primary caregiver isn’t a sign of weakness or selfishness. And it doesn’t mean you love your family member any less.
What Is Respite Care?
A respite is a short period of rest, and respite care refers to a short break in caregiving. Whether it’s for a few hours a week or an extended vacation, respite care gives the primary caregiver time to rest and recharge their batteries. Without respite care, many caregivers can go weeks or longer with no social interaction. Their mental health suffers the effects of isolation.
The adverse effects of caregiving worsen when the person is caring for a family member with dementia. In fact, the Caregiver Alliance (1) reports that home caregivers of dementia patients are twice as likely to become depressed as those caring for family members with other types of health problems.
The physical health of caregivers can suffer too. In some cases, the demands of looking after someone else are so rigorous. The caregiver goes without adequate rest or nutrition. They may even miss their own healthcare appointments.
Meeting friends for lunch, going to the gym, or running personal errands may not seem like much of a “vacation,” but having the time to do these simple things can make a world of difference to the caregiver.
Types of Respite Services
Taking a loved one to a residential program, a group home, or another specialized facility for a few hours or a few days is called out-of-home respite care. While it might be an option for some people, these facilities can be difficult to find depending on where you live. And in some cases, moving an ill person out of their familiar environment creates more problems than it solves. However, if the circumstances for out-of-home care are right, it can be a vital part of a caregiver’s overall support network.
In-home respite care involves a friend, a volunteer, another family member, or a paid professional coming in to look after the patient. At the same time, the caregiver leaves to do other things. In-home respite care is popular for its ease, allowing the patient to remain comfortable at home.
In-home care providers may be easier to locate than you think. Some places to find a trustworthy respite care provider include:
- Volunteers from the community, non-profit or faith-based organizations
- Personal care providers to help with daily living skills
- Homemaker services to provide help with shopping, housekeeping, and meal preparations
- Skilled healthcare providers for high-level medical needs
- Trained professional caregivers hired from home-care businesses
- Friends and family members
- Care co-op or care swap organization
Once a primary caregiver decides that respite care is an essential part of caregiving, they will see that many people and organizations are willing to help.
Who Pays for Respite Care?
After overcoming the guilt, some caregivers accept “needing help.” At that point, paying for respite care is the next big obstacle. Most private insurance plans do not cover the costs of in-home respite care. Veteran’s benefits and long-term care insurance may provide some coverage, but for the most part, in-home respite care is an out-of-pocket expense.
The costs involved depend on where you live, what types of services you need, and how long you need them. If volunteers or family members aren’t available to help, a primary caregiver may have to decide between which type of assistance is needed most and which type their loved one can afford.
With 10,000 people turning 65 every day in America (2), long-term care costs are a major concern. Nationally, the median monthly cost of a part-time home health aide is $2,080, according to Genworth Insurance. For many seeking respite care, help with basic housekeeping might be the most affordable option, even if it is not the most ideal.
Vetting In-Home Respite Care Providers
Leaving your loved one in the care of a stranger for the first time is a stress-inducing experience. But taking the time to find the right person will increase your peace of mind. Follow these suggestions when searching for a respite care provider:
- Screen applicants over the phone and follow-up with an in-depth, in-person interview
- Be specific about the tasks and schedules involved with your loved one’s care
- Ask for a minimum of three work and three personal references, and follow through with checking them
- Be clear about compensation and scheduling payment; never pay in advance
- Conduct a background check on the final handful of contenders
The high cost of in-home respite care underscores the importance of accepting any help that comes from a trustworthy source. Get in the habit of saying “thank you” instead of “I’m fine” when friends offer to stop by the grocery store for you or sit with your loved one for a few hours.
Benefits of In-Home Respite Care
The benefits of respite care often focus on the caregiver, and deservedly so. Care providers need and deserve time to relax, take care of themselves and engage in activities they enjoy. But in addition to helping the person who is providing care, respite also benefits the person receiving care.
Meeting New People
Elders stuck at home due to illness or disability rarely get to interact with anyone besides their caregiver. Meeting new caregivers can lead to new friendships and stimulating social interaction.
Finding New Solutions
Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to find the solution to an old problem. The experience and training of a respite provider could lead to improved care methods for your loved one.
Widen the Support Network
Finding one new person to count on can open doors for your loved one. Remember, the family member you take care of is even more isolated than you are. They may worry about what will happen to them if something happens to them. Learning to trust a new caregiver can build confidence and help your loved one feel more supported.
If you need a respite caregiver, we are here to help. We understand that finding quality care for your loved one is the priority. Contact us today to learn more about our in-home respite care services.
Senior Services Unlimited
6255 Knox Industrial Drive,
St. Louis, Missouri 63139
- Depression and Caregiving – Family Caregiver Alliance
- Cost of Long Term Care by State | Cost of Care Report | Genworth
- The Family Caregiver Guide to Respite Care at Home in St. Louis County, Missouri - August 19, 2021
- The Family Guide to Senior Home Care in Sappington, Missouri - August 19, 2021
- Prepare for Winter - November 4, 2020