November is a month to honor family caregivers and the contributions they make to our society. In the United States, 90 million family caregivers fulfill a vital role on the care team of a family member according to the Caregiver Action Network – the organization behind National Family Caregivers Month. Throughout the month, the Aging Life Care Association™ will feature a variety of blog posts and highlight resources available for family caregivers.
“Respite: Care for Caregivers” is the 2015 National Famly Caregivers Month Theme
This year, the Caregiver Action Network shines the spotlight on the need for caregivers to take a break or respite from their caregiving duties.
” Respite – the chance to take a breather, the opportunity to re-energize – is as important as any other item on your caregiver’s to-do list. People think of respite as a luxury, but considering caregivers’ increased risk for health issues from chronic stress, those risks are a lot costlier than some time away to recharge. Respite is the key to your own well-being. Respite protects your own health, strengthens family relationships, prevents burn-out and allows your loved one to stay at home up to three times longer. No wonder respite is one of the most frequently requested support services for family caregivers.” – Caregiver Action Network
When you are responsible for the care of an aging loved one, a vacation or weekend getaway may seem impossible or out-of-reach. The questions race through your mind: What happens if mom falls? Who will remind Dad to take his medications? What if there is a storm? You feel overwhelmed and cancel your plans.
With a Plan in Place You Can Take a Break from Caregiving Duties
Not taking time away from caregiving responsibilities can lead to bigger problems – caregiver burnout, stress, or poor health. With some extra planning and help, you can take a break. Aging Life Care™ experts offer these tips to help make sure your loved one is safe and comfortable while you are away:
1. In-Home Caregivers: If there is not another family member or trusted friend or neighbor to fill in for you, connect with an Aging Life Care Professional™ who can help arrange for in-home care, monitoring, or transportation needs. Many Aging Life Care Professionals offer 24/7 service and can serve as an emergency contact while you are away. Depending on the individual’s needs, paid caregivers can assist with activities of daily living – bathing, dressing, mobility, meal preparations, house cleaning, or transportation. If you plan on using a caregiver, spend time getting the caregiver and your loved one familiar and comfortable with each other and to be sure that the caregiver is a good match.
2. Organize Important Documents: Prepare a folder or binder of information for the person/agency who will provide care and oversight while you are away. Include information on emergency contacts, physicians, preferred hospital, pharmacy, and other service providers, such as therapy services, Meals on Wheels, home care agency, etc. Also include your loved one’s medication list and other important documents such as Power of Attorney, Living Will, Advance Directives, and Do Not Resuscitate orders.
3. In-Home Technology: There are a variety of new technologies designed for keeping aging adults safe in their homes, including personal emergency response systems (PERS), GPS tracking devices, automated medication reminders and dispensers, as well as systems that allow you to remotely monitor or control the usage of certain electrical outlets or appliances.
4. Respite Care: Many retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes offer respite care on a per diem basis for short stays. If your loved one just needs daytime-only activities or supervision, consider an adult day care center.
“Caregiving is exhausting and difficult work,” says Jeffrey S. Pine, Aging Life Care Association president, “but with some extra planning and research, it is possible to take some time away from your caregiving responsibilities to recharge your batteries.”
To access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please visit aginglifecare.org.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.