Understanding the Role of Respite Care When You are a Caretaker
Respite – “a delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief” (Dictionary.com).
Until you became the caregiver for an elderly person, you probably were not familiar with the term “respite care” and had not given much thought to what respite care means. However, the chances are good that, at some point in your life, you either used respite care to help yourself regroup or were placed in respite care while your caregivers got a break. That is because babysitters, summer camps, and even sleepovers with other responsible adults are ways that adults providing care for children get respite. They are informal methods of respite care that allow parents to get a break from their duties and recharge, so that they can provide the high-standard of care they want to provide for their children.
Society has not established similar informal means of providing respite care for adults.
While there are a wide variety of formal and informal venues for providing respite for caregivers of children, there are not as many options for those providing care for adults, who simply need a break. The informal venues of respite care that work for children, such as sleepovers, are simply not practical in most scenarios where the person in need of care is an adult, because, while most parents have peers whose homes are set up to safely watch children, most caregivers of adults do not have peers whose homes are set up to safely watch adults. There are often highly specialized emotional and medical needs involved in caring for adults that even the most well-meaning of friends and family are unable to meet. That is where respite care becomes an important component of the caregiving scenario.
Respite care is the provision of short-term care in a specialized facility outside of the home, which provides temporary relief to caregivers.
Respite care is actually a powerful tool to be used in helping seniors or individuals with special needs stay in their homes, because it gives caregivers the option to get extra help when needed. At Chelsea Senior Living, many of our facilities offer respite care. Caregivers can use respite time for vacations or other planned events, but also frequently rely on it when a temporary change in the caregiver’s situation makes it impossible for him or her to provide care to another, but does not dictate a permanent change. Respite care can also serve as an introductory transition to an assisted living environment, when a potential resident and their caregivers are uncertain about making that type of change.