Being a caregiver is a vital role, but it can be challenging. Whether you are new to caregiving or have been taking care of a loved one for a long time, it’s important to find support. No one can do this important job alone. With longer life expectancies and advancements in medical treatment, an increasing number of adults are becoming caregivers for a spouse with chronic or terminal illness, an aging parent, or even a child with special needs.
Without support and respite, you can easily burnout and be vulnerable to compassion fatigue in which your compassion for others becomes lessened from overexertion of your mental, physical, and emotional capacity without recharging yourself. With the right support, you can provide care for a family member or loved one in a way that is rewarding and fulfilling for both of you.
Every caregiver, especially full-time caregivers, needs time off. Whether it’s for a planned vacation, a special occasion, an unexpected illness, or recovery after surgery, respite care can provide the peace of mind for caregivers that their loved ones are being well taken care of during their time off. Respite care can be provided on a regular basis, such as three days a week, or can be scheduled in advance when needed for vacations or special occasions.
The two major ways that respite programs are run include in-home care and out-of-home care:
In-home care is provided by a companion, personal care assistant, or home health aide who comes into the person’s home or into your home. Sometimes volunteers are available through a “Friendly Visitor Program” or local faith-based organizations. In-home care can be done from one to several days a week and may or may not include personal care or household services. It is often provided for four hours or less for companionship and supervision. In-home care allows caregivers to go out, do errands, take care of personal business, go to work, or exercise. It can be arranged through your local Aging Services Access Point (ASAP), such as Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging (WIAAA) or from private service providers. Private services are more costly, but they are especially important for caregivers who are working or live out of state.
Out-of-home care is provided by outside facilities, such as nursing homes or Adult Day Health centers. Out-of-home respite care can be provided for a few hours a day or overnight for as long as needed. Adult Day Programs offer activities in a safe and familiar environment for elders and provide caregivers with relief. These services can be arranged through your local Aging Service Access Point (ASAP) or Council on Aging (COA), such as the Rock Island County Senior Center.
For longer stays, skilled nursing facilities support families and caregivers with overnight respite stays to provide a break for those who need to travel, tend to personal obligations, take time to recover from surgery or illness, or simply require relief.
For information about local Adult Day Health & Respite facilities try the Elder Care Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging connecting you to services for older adults and their families. You can search by zip code on the website or call 1-800-677-1116.
For more helpful information about other resources, including respite services in the home and outside the home, visit ARCH National Respite Network.