Respite Care: Giving Assisted Living a Test-Drive
In most cases, the options available for senior care focus on the needs of the senior. Respite care is an exception. While it’s usually used to provide a caregiver a temporary reprieve, respite care can also serve another valuable purpose. It offers families a way to explore what it would be like for a loved one to live in an assisted living retirement community without making a long-term commitment.
Fear of the unknown is a powerful barrier that keeps some seniors from considering assisted living. A respite stay is a way to evaluate the experience (and get acquainted with a specific senior living community) on a limited timeline.
What is respite care?
Respite care gives a caregiver a short-term break from attending to the needs of an elderly parent or loved one. It may be necessary to give a caregiver a chance to focus on their own needs, or it may be due to an illness or injury that requires greater support than the caregiver can provide.
Although most caregivers have chosen their roles willingly and lovingly, caring for an aging loved one takes a toll. A caregiver’s own health, relationships, and interests can take a back burner, which ultimately leads to burnout. Respite care makes it possible for a caregiver to focus on their own needs, spend time with other loved ones, or even take a vacation. With a loved one safely cared for in a respite setting, it’s possible for a caregiver to recharge and practice self-care with peace of mind.
Respite care services can be offered in-home, but there are circumstances when a respite stay in an assisted living community is safer and more practical, especially if the senior has specific medical needs or trouble getting around on their own.
A senior who is accustomed to living at home may be resistant to a respite stay, but there are many advantages for the senior, too. It’s a change of scenery and a chance to focus on wellness while picking up some tips for healthier living. It’s also a way to test-drive a new living arrangement before it becomes a necessity.
Evaluating the experience
Thinking about how a new living arrangement might work requires input from everyone involved. Here are some questions to consider during a respite stay:
Does the community have activities that are important to me?
Virtually all assisted living communities offer programs, activities, and amenities designed to enrich residents’ lives. Explore what you can do at the community and whether you would expect to be able to pursue your interests in the future. This might include everything from practicing your faith to continuing to spend time in the kitchen, whether it’s in your assisted living apartment, in a community area, or in a cooking class.
Do I feel free to live my life as I have been and keep my preferred schedule?
We are all creatures of habit, so it’s worth considering how your personal schedule may be affected by living in an assisted living community. You may be surprised by the level of flexibility to accommodate your familiar routine for waking and sleeping, eating meals, and more.
Does this assisted living community fit my personality?
Much like choosing a house in your younger years, finding the right fit for an assisted living community isn’t always easy to define; it’s more a gut feeling. Some communities are formal and proper, while others are more laid-back and casual. Some are quiet and reserved, while others are lively and vibrant. None are right or wrong, but some may be more right for you.
What are the trade-offs of living in this community compared to home?
Try to take an objective look at the pros and cons of both arrangements. You’ll undoubtedly have a long list of advantages for each setting, so you’ll want to weigh them against the disadvantages and think about what you stand to gain versus what you may sacrifice.
Did my physical or mental health change during my respite stay?
During a stay in an assisted living community, you can expect to see some changes in your physical health because you have a team dedicated to your care, like ensuring you’re getting regular, nutritious meals. You’re also likely to have better access to fitness programs, and if you’re there during a recovery period, physical therapy may make a noticeable difference in your mobility. Wellness programs can also help ensure you’re feeling good on the whole, from the inside out.
How did the experience feel from the caregiver’s perspective?
As a caregiver, you’re sure to have questions of your own. Does your loved one feel secure and happy? Are there adequate methods for you to communicate with your loved one’s care team? How did your personal life change during the respite stay?
Explore a Respite Option Nearby
If you’re considering a respite stay, Springpoint’s assisted living communities offer a first-class experience that makes you or a loved one feel right at home. Learn more about our eight communities across New Jersey and Delaware.