Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Respite Care - A Service That Could Be Used More.

(picture froma Place for Mom website)
With summer coming fast and schools closing for a break, families are thinking about vacations. Many families can just leave when they have their vacation weeks and not think too much of it. Now there are many families that have someone who is a caregiver, usually for an elderly parent, and they cannot leave as easily as they could before. Sometimes the parent(s) can still travel so that can be both a blessing and a daunting thought since now the caregiver has to pack and plan for an extra person who may have medical needs and may not move as fast as the rest of the family. Mom traveled with us when she was slowing down and we just had to plan differently -- like how many more bathroom stops will it take us and how much longer the trip will be, making sure she had all her medication, taking doctor phone numbers, etc. Frank is hoping to take his parents to a family wedding out-of-state soon; he now has to plan for extra luggage, stops, possibly a type of handicapped lodging, handling medications, doctor information, etc.
"A Place for Mom" states that:
According to the Center for Disease Control caregivers often pay a high toll for their labor of love:
35% of caregivers have difficulty finding time for themselves.
29% experience emotional and physical stress from their role.
54% said their health has gotten worse due to caregiving, and has affected their ability to give care.
29% have difficulty balancing work and family responsibilities

Studies from the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP show that a lot of caregivers do not want to say they need a break, only 12% of caregivers take advantage of this. California State University San Bernardino designed a questionnaire to see if someone needs a break.
Sometimes assisted living communities offer respite care - both long term (vacations) or short term (enough time to run errands). Not only is this good for a change but now you have the opportunity to check out communities should your loved one need to move into a more secure location. The National Respite Network suggests that caregivers take this service earlier than later, that it is best to take advantage of this before becoming overly stressed or tired. "Respite will be most helpful if you use it before you become exhausted, isolated or overwhelmed by your responsibilities.” You can also use respite if the main caregiver falls ill, business travel comes up or some weather type of factor.
Communities already offering respite care say that they try to make it easy for someone to sign up and take advantage of the service - usually short forms or a package that is easily filled out.
Of course, you can always contact "A Place for Mom", "A Place for Dad" (the same as mom) for help.

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    When caring for an elderly friend or family member who has cognitive impairment, you can’t allow your own physical and emotional needs to fall by the wayside.

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