Respite care is an option offered by many assisted living communities year-round. But this opportunity can be especially appealing to families during the warmer months when kids are off school — or making the transition back to school. Find out more about respite care and how it supports families during the summer months (and all year long) below.
Respite care is a level of care offered by assisted living communities. It allows someone to become a temporary resident of the assisted living or memory care community, receiving the same level of support and services as permanent residents.
This option can be a great way for older adults and their families to test out whether assisted living is the right choice for them. You can stay a few days or a couple of weeks in respite care, so it provides plenty of time to really get to know the amenities, staff and overall culture of a community. Another reason people use respite care is to provide a time of rest for a family caregiver, which is why the summer months can be popular times for this level of service.
For many families, summer is a time of rest, relaxation and adventure — not necessarily in that order. But for families who are caring for an older adult with many needs, it can be harder to seek these things. Check out these five ways respite care can provide benefits during the summer months (and throughout the year).
When you're caring for an older adult, you're often doing so out of love. Whether it's a grandparent, parent or someone else, you choose to invite them into your home because you want them to have the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, enjoy relationships with your children and receive care from those who know and love them. That's a wonderful thing.
But that also puts you, the family caregiver, in a singular role where you're mostly or wholly responsible for the care of this other person, and that can be exhausting. So much so that 17% to 35% of family caregivers report that their own health is only fair or poor.
Ensuring you have time to attend to your own needs is critical to ongoing success as a caregiver. Respite care, especially during the summer months when others are enjoying time off and vacations, can take the burden off you for a few days or weeks. That lets you enjoy life outside of the caregiver role and recharge, making you a more effective caregiver overall.
In many cases, caregivers look to bring everyone along for a vacation, including older adults in their care. This is a great thing if the older adult in your care can enjoy the vacation along with you and your family to some degree, but in some cases, it may put an unnecessary amount of stress on the caregiver.
If you're caring for someone who isn't that mobile, for example, a family trip to the beach becomes more work. You have to think about how to get that person to and from the beach, what type of provisions you might need while there and what activities might be appropriate for that person nearby. That might mean someone — often the primary caregiver — stays behind as a companion or caregiver for the older adult when others adventure to attractions in the area.
Using respite care, you can trust that your loved one is safe and enjoying a vibrant social atmosphere — potentially making new friends and having new experiences while you're free to do the same.
In some cases, the vacation may not even be possible without respite care. If you want to go kayaking or white-water rafting, hike some national parks or travel overseas on long international flights, respite care is a great option for older adults who have health and mobility issues that might keep them from these activities.
Even if you're not planning to travel, you may want some downtime during the summer months to bond with school-age children. In some cases, parents might schedule non-urgent procedures, such as removing wisdom teeth or getting new braces, during the summer months when they won't interfere with school attendance. In all these cases, respite care for an older loved one ensures they have a great time and enjoy a comfortable, caring environment while you concentrate on other members of your family for a while.
It can take a lot of time and energy to rev up for the new school season. You may need to get supplies, buy new clothes for kids and attend meetings and orientations. You may also want to take time for last-minute summer bucket list items or one more lazy day at the pool. Respite care frees you temporarily from caregiving responsibilities so you can do these things.
Caregiving can be a rewarding task that means a lot for everyone in the family. And when you take time off to recharge and attend to other responsibilities, you can be a better caregiver for your loved one.