Respite care gives you a break from your caregiving duties. While respite care communities provide many basics for their temporary residents, there are some things you're responsible for bringing. Other items are things that can help your loved one feel more comfortable during their stay. Always check with the community for guidelines on what you should and shouldn't send, as they might have different procedures or recommendations.
The type of clothing you send depends on your loved one's preferences, where you live and the current weather conditions. Comfortable daily wear clothing should make up the bulk of the packing list. They'll also need pajamas and undergarments. A pair of slippers works well for walking around the room or building. You might also need to pack a few warmer items, such as a jacket, hat and gloves, if the weather is cool at the time.
Next up, you'll want to pack any toiletries and personal care items your loved one will need during the stay. This includes things like hair care products, deodorant, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, brushes, makeup and shaving supplies. Think about your loved one's daily routine to create a list of items they use regularly. The length of the respite stay can help you decide how much of each item to pack.
Check with the community to see how they handle prescription and over-the-counter medications. You'll likely need to send those items with your loved one so they have enough to last through the stay. Some communities might store the medications and administer them to your loved one. Keep prescriptions in their original containers with the labels on them.
If your loved one has any special mobility needs, packing those items helps them get around much easier. Some respite communities might offer limited access to these items, but it's often easier to use the tools your loved one is used to. They might have a cane or walker that's the right height and weight to work well for them. The grips and other features are also familiar, making their personal mobility equipment safer and more effective.
Staying in touch with others can help your loved one feel more connected while they're in a new environment. A cell phone or tablet gives them a way to message you and other loved ones or friends. This might include texts, emails, calls or video chats, depending on the capabilities of the device and their preferences. Don't forget the charging cords for those devices to keep them powered up while you're apart.
You might send a document that includes your contact information and details for other family members. Writing those numbers on a piece of paper in addition to saving them in your loved one's phone acts as a backup. You might also need to send insurance information or copies of documents like living wills or advance directives. This provides the caregivers with key details that can help them improve the care they provide.
Senior communities offering respite care typically plan a variety of daily activities for their residents. Respite residents are welcome to join in on those activities along with permanent residents. However, your loved one will still likely have downtime and might want some personal entertainment options. This might include an e-reader, puzzles, cards, board games or hobby supplies.
Home is the most comfortable place to be, so sending items that remind your loved one of home and bring them comfort can ease the transition. While bedding is typically provided, you might send a special blanket or preferred pillow if it helps your loved one sleep better. A favorite pair of pajamas, a stuffed animal or other comforting items can also go along with them. You might ask your loved one for input on this category to make sure they have things that help them feel at ease.
Your loved one should receive all the nutrition they need from the respite provider. However, some seniors have specific preferences when it comes to snacks. They might find comfort in certain food items or prefer some things because they're easier to eat than others. Packing some of those familiar foods can help your loved one feel at home and encourage them to eat more.
Photos and small keepsakes can be comforting while you're apart from your loved one. This can help them feel closer to you. A digital photo frame makes it easy to upload several photos that rotate, or you can put together a photo album that your loved one can hold and flip through when they want to see the images. Avoid sending anything that's too valuable or irreplaceable.
Some respite care communities offer on-site shops, salons and other amenities. These come at an additional cost beyond what you pay for respite care. Sending a small amount of money or another form of payment gives your loved one the freedom to enjoy those extras if they're available.