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Develop a Respite Plan

Article Highlights

  • Develop a list of potential helpers
  • Research community-based programs
  • Use Eldercare Locator

Now that you've learned the basics of respite care, it's time to develop your care plan. Here are some tips on how to do so.

See also: A break for the caregiver.

Cast a Wide Net
Think broadly about potential helpers. Aside from family members, you should look to friends from the neighborhood, faith groups or social clubs who may be able to offer help and companionship. Having a long list of potential helpers will ensure you have a backup in case plans fall through.

Start a Respite Co-op
Consider forming a network with other families who are in caregiving situations. Such co-ops exist in some communities, but you might form one yourself with people you and your parents know or with others you meet in support groups for caregivers.

Arrange In-home Services
In-home services can be provided by volunteers or paid help, either occasionally or on a regular basis. Services may last from a few hours to overnight, and may be arranged directly with an individual or through an agency or organization.

You can find volunteers through faith-based organizations, as well as through community agencies and support groups. The type of service offered varies, but often includes a registry of individual care providers, and a list of local home care agencies or agency staff who work directly with older adults or persons with disabilities. Check out our tip sheets on hiring an independent care provider or selecting an agency for in-home care to help you find the service or individual who will best meet your and your parents’ needs.

Investigate Community Programs
Adult day care services provide a community-based program for adults who need ongoing supervision. These programs typically offer health monitoring, meals, snacks, recreation and exercise, and sometimes offer transportation, therapy, medical care and personal care to help with hygiene. They are generally staffed by trained professionals. Your parent could attend on a daily basis, dependent on your needs and the availability of the program.

Check Out Residential Facilities
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities often have short-stay options for families looking for safe, temporary care for their loved one. Nursing homes generally provide a higher level of personal care and nursing services than do assisted living residences. Facilities vary on the terms for this service, including price and minimum or maximum number of days available. Most require a detailed health status report filled out by you and your parent’s doctor. Check out our tip sheets on selecting nursing homes and assisted living facilities to find out what to ask while you research each.

Finding Respite
A good place to start your search for respite beyond your own informal networks would be with the Eldercare Locator. By entering your loved one's ZIP code into a free and confidential online tool, you can be connected to an agency that has information on respite services in your area. These agencies would have information on programs funded under the National Family Caregiver Support Program and Medicaid.

The National Respite Locator Service helps parents, caregivers and professionals find respite services in their state and area to match their specific needs. By selecting your particular need from a list, providing the age of your parent and the state and community where he or she lives, the locator will provide the names of agencies and programs nearby.

Many faith-based programs provide respite care and other services to older people and persons with disabilities. One such network of faith-based programs is Faith in Action. Check to see if a program exists in your community.

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