Being a caregiver can be stressful. It can consume your life so much that you forget to take care of your own needs. Likewise, having to be cared for can be stressful, too. Accepting losses of independence, along with the fear that comes along with that, can lead to additional health problems and depression.
That’s where respite care comes in.
Various respite care options are designed to take the strain off caregivers, and to give those being cared for the comfort of knowing they are safe and secure. Here are a few options to help you put a respite care plan in place:
>> Friends and family: Of course, if you have friends and family willing to help, you’re lucky. Perhaps you can split up duties and spread out the caregiving tasks. However, be sure to find out who your loved one really trusts and wants to be with and get some honest commitments from friends and loved ones about what they are truly willing to do to help. Avoid any potential misunderstandings by being clear about expectations, including issues such as payment for their time or reimbursement of expenses. Be sure to provide a list of medications and special instructions for care so that the transition from one caregiver to the next is seamless. This is also a typically low-cost way of getting extra help.
>> Adult day care: JABA, the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, has two Adult Care Centers in our area — one in Charlottesville at its headquarters on Hillsdale Drive, and the other in Louisa County at the Betty J. Queen Intergenerational Center on Industrial Drive. They provide person-centered care plans (specializing in Alzheimer’s and dementia care), structured activities, socializing, medication administration, meals, and supervision by professional staff during the weekday. Basically, it’s not unlike a preschool schedule, and, in fact, the Hillsdale location offers intergenerational programming for adults coordinated with the preschool in the same building. Fees are based on the level of care needed, and scholarships are also available. Insurance is accepted, and income-based scholarships are also available.
>> Companion care: Paid or volunteer elder companions can prepare meals; do house-cleaning, laundry, errands and shopping; and offer companionship. You can start by word-of-mouth recommendations to find someone or check out various in-home care agencies in the area with a simple Google search. At Care.com, you can pull up a list of local caregivers, along with reviews and qualifications. Trained staff at JABA also can make referrals and point you in the right direction. Cost for this can range from free volunteer help to between $10 and $20 per hour for paid care. JABA also offers Companion Care Services. Cost for this can range from free volunteer help to between $15 and $35 per hour for paid in-home care (according to listings from local providers on care.com) depending on the level of need and the experience of the provider. According to CareScout, the median cost of hiring through an in-home care agency in 2020 was $24 per hour.
>> Personal care assistants: In addition to things like errands and housekeeping, personal care assistants can help with bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom and administering medications with the proper training. Start your online search at Senior Navigator (www.seniornavigator.org) and do a Google search for in-home care agencies in our area, or call JABA for referrals. Costs can go up for this level of care depending on the level of care needed, and that can add up, should overnights be needed.
>> Assisted-living respite care: Most assisted-living communities offer some kind of respite care, meaning people can stay and get the same (or most of the same) 24/7 care that permanent residents receive. And like the adult care center option, they can interact and socialize with peers and people with similar issues. Stays can be a few days or a week, or even more, and this option can allow families a more complete break from caregiving, knowing their loved one is being cared for 24/7 by a professional staff.
This is also a way for families to check out the facility with no commitment, should their loved one need this level of care down the road and decide to become a permanent resident. Costs typically run between $125 and $250 a day for respite care, depending on the facility and level of care services needed. It’s a good idea to call around to different facilities and visit to find out exactly what they offer.