Respite Care: The Life Preserver for Family Caregivers

Family caregivers are fantastic, giving people who pour themselves out as they care for others. Many of these are spiritually motivated, and they become the hands and feet of Christ in a world that has lost its way. Motivated by a servant’s heart, you move through this world touching others in ways that offer strength, comfort, and hope. It is this caring quality that draws others to your nurturing spirits. God’s love and mercy flow from your life to bring light to a world that badly needs illumination. You Rock!!

But what happens when you need a break? Who takes care of you when you feel overwhelmed, burdened, and alone? Burnout is very real, and family caregivers are not immune to its demoralizing effects. Especially if you work in relative isolation with your aging loved one, strategies to avoid burnout are essential to save your sanity and your health.

Respite care resources are one way to avoid family caregiver burnout. This type of care is not necessarily a regularly scheduled service but can be an excellent deterrent to burnout even when used sporadically. You can find respite resources through many different sources. Some are volunteer-driven while others may have costs associated with the care. Every respite resource is as different as each family’s needs.

If you find yourself thinking that respite services might be helpful to your situation, here are a few ideas to move you toward the right solution that will best meet your needs:

  • Your church, or another church in your area, might keep a list of individuals who will volunteer a few hours a week to provide respite care. Many churches have members who enjoy homebound ministry, and they might be willing to spending a few hours with your loved one from time to time so you can take a short break to recharge your batteries. Explore options here to see what resources might be available.
  • Your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) might have a list of seniors in the area who provide respite care through the agency. Check with them to see if they offer respite care services to seniors in your community.
  • Home Care agencies like Home Instead Senior Care can provide respite care for an hourly cost. Most will have a minimum number of hours, and if a regular schedule is not set the price may be significantly higher. In most cases, a regular weekly schedule will offer a reduction in hourly costs and would provide regular breaks for the family caregiver.
  • Some organizations offer to pay for respite services through a grant-type program. In some communities, The Alzheimer’s Association offers reimbursement grants for respite care in limited areas. Go to this website and type Respite Care Grant in the search window at the top right-hand corner of the homepage to see if such resources are available in your area.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association also has a link to a program sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care in conjunction with Hilarity for Charity, an organization founded by Seth and Lauren Rogan. This organization’s mission is to raise awareness, inspire change and accelerate progress in Alzheimer’s care, research, and support through the engagement of millennials. Here’s the link to apply if your loved one has been diagnosed with this devastating disease.
  • Most Assisted Living facilities, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities have some form of residential respite care programs. These are usually for respite services required for an extended period, such as the family caregiver’s vacation or health-related break lasting a week or more. If you have an Adult Day Care Center in your community, see if your loved one might come there for a few hours during the week if they can enjoy a congregant social setting.

Hopefully, these resources will at least help you to start formulating a respite plan. As always, the more resources you have, the better equipped you are to continue in your role as family caregiver. But resources that are untapped will never help you, so build in the discipline of taking breaks to nurture yourself in between nurturing the rest of the world. You will be better for it and so will the care you provide to others.





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