Yes! Caregivers can Take a Vacation!

You already know that I think family caregivers, like you, are giving and amazing people.  I also think that they are incredibly hard working, busy, and often stressed people who usually don’t think about their own needs. You may be thinking “I don’t have time to pay attention to my own needs; Dad’s care takes all my spare time and energy”.  I understand how busy and overwhelmed you may feel some of the time (maybe all of the time), but if you don’t take a good look at your situation and realize that you need breaks, then the likelihood of your being able to remain a family caregiver is reduced as time goes by.  This is because your likelihood of burnout is increased.Seriously consider taking breaks, or even a get-away.

I want you to continue to be able to care for your senior as long as possible.  Taking care of yourself is do-able; you just need to make the decision to do it.  The following are some ways that you can get some time to care for yourself depending on how much time you want off.If you are not yet comfortable with taking a week vacation away from your senior, you should consider just taking a few hours and seeing how it goes.  Then work your way up as you feel comfortable or have the need.   Even if you don’t have the need right now, you may want to look into some of these options and maybe even start the process so that in the event that you need to take time away, everything is in place.  You have several options and you have probably thought off them before, but may have never actually taken a step to do them.  Now is the time to just pick up the phone and just do it.  Because you deserve it!

Family Assistance

While this is a simple answer, it just may be the hardest.  It’s hard to ask for help from family.  But if you are able to say that you could use a little break, and admit that’s it’s a little harder than you thought, maybe someone will help you out for a few hours.  If one says no, don’t get upset, just thank them and move on to the next family member.  If you have no luck, don’t worry, just go on to the next section.

Get a Paid Caregiver

I know, you are caring for your senior so that you don’t have to hire a caregiver. But who says you can’t use them on occasion if the goal is to give you a break so you can continue being a great caregiver?  It doesn’t have to be an all-or nothing.   Do what you have to do.

You have a few options here.  You can call around to your local home care agencies and get quotes.  Some may have a 4 or 6 hour minimum, but all will offer 24 hour in home care if needed.  Some will have a minimum number of days per week. One of my local agencies will give you a free day if you try them out, so ask, it can’t hurt.

You can also try to hire a caregiver privately.  On Websites such as Care.com you can search for private caregivers, view their work history, look at background checks and even pay them right on from the site.  It’s a little more work to hire privately, but you will likely save money.  Home care is not covered by insurance, so you will have to pay out of pocket.  Just consider it as a premium on the activity that you want to do for yourself.

Adult Day Care

Many communities have adult day care programs. These programs exist so that family caregivers can be relieved from their work with the senior for the day while ensuring that the senior is in a safe environment and surrounded by professionals.  These centers could focus on social interaction, medical care, or Alzheimer’s care and are meant to provide care and services for frail seniors or those who require supervision.   Adult day care centers are a terrific alternative for many reasons.  They not only provide respite for you, but allow increased social interaction for your senior.  Be assured that they will provide services such as meals, medication administration, toileting.  They may be able to get counseling, mental stimulation, exercise, health monitoring and maybe even therapy such as physical, occupational or speech. Many centers will even provide transportation and pick up your senior from your home and bring them back at the end of the day.

Adult day care will work best for those of you who need respite, or a break, on a regular basis.  This is because this is not a one-time, one day only, kind of program.  Most seniors will attend from 2-5 days a week on an ongoing basis.  Medicare does not cover the cost of adult day care, but if your senior has Medicaid or MediCal, then the cost may be covered.  If your senior is a qualifying veteran or survivor of a veteran, the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance program may also cover the cost.  Otherwise, you can private pay for the programs.  The average cost is about $64-$125 per day depending on what part of the United States you live in, the services offered and needed, and whether the program is government funded.  You must plan ahead for Adult Day Care programs as there is an application process, paperwork needed from physician and TB test, at minimum.

Assisted Living Facility

“What?  I’m a family caregiver in order to avoid my parent from having to move to an assisted living facility.”  Yes, I know.  And that’s admirable.  But using an assisted living facility as a short-term respite could be a God send.  Many facilities have a short term program, one or two weeks, where you could have your senior stay there, for just a little while, while you take a vacation from caregiving so you can rejuvenate, attend a family event or even take a “Staycation”.   Do a web search for “assisted living respite care” to find participating facilities in your area. Again, you’ll need to plan ahead because the facility may want you to come in for a tour, paperwork, doctors certification, and TB shot.  Don’t worry, a short placement will help you to continue your caregiving journey.

An assisted living respite will likely be your most expensive option, however, since it is not covered by any insurance.   You can expect to pay $75 to $200 per day, according to 2012 Genworth.com data.  But again, the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance program may pay if your senior qualifies.

Caregiver Resource Center

Most communities have a Caregiver Resource center. They not provide support and education to family caregivers, like you, but they may also help you to come up with a respite plan.  Funds may be available for emergency situations when you need to get away for urgent family issues or health matters.  Do an online search for the Caregiver Resource Center near you.

So you see, there just might be a vacation in your future!  Or at least time for a lunch with a friend once in awhile!

Let me know if you were able to plan a respite and what worked for you.  I’d love to hear from you!

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