By ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center  |  Apr 5, 2023

Nine Steps to Respite Care for Family Caregivers of Persons with Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease

Caregivers of family members with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, may face special challenges that result in changing roles within the family and the need for more intensive levels of care. Providing care can be complicated and challenging and requires careful planning. Respite care services can provide family caregivers with a much-needed break from caregiving responsibilities.

The following article is excerpted from the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center’s family caregiver fact sheet, which can be downloaded here. Please read the full fact sheet to gain a better understanding of the resources that are available, what caregivers can expect, and how to select a high-quality service that best meets your needs.

Step One: Understand Respite Care

Taking a break allows caregivers to become less stressed, better rested and renewed. Families are encouraged to start using respite care at the beginning of their caregiving experience and on a regular basis to avoid feelings of guilt, exhaustion, isolation, and burnout.

Step Two: Types of Respite Care Available

Respite care is available from a variety of organizations and can be delivered in a variety of locations inside and outside the home. Caregivers can receive a break for a few hours, a few days or even several weeks. Services may be free or offered on a sliding scale, and in some cases, emergency respite services are available.

Step Three: Where to Find Services

There are several ways to find respite. Some programs are for specific populations while others are provided to the general public. Read the fact sheet for a list of places to contact regarding the respite services available in your community.

Step Four: Paying for Respite

In many cases, respite will be free. In some cases, you may be required to pay a copayment based on the care recipient’s medical or disability status and financial information. The fact sheet lists several public and private funding sources.

Step Five: Deciding What’s Right

Once you have decided to use respite care, you want to make sure the service you are considering is right for your situation and family. Careful conversations with family members and the care recipient are crucial when exploring options and how you will use the respite service. After those initial conversations, identify potential respite services or providers and discuss your family’s expectations. The fact sheet suggests key questions to ask.

Step Six: Preparing Your Loved One for Respite

Some care recipients may be resistant to respite care because they are uncomfortable in an unfamiliar environment or being with people who are considered “strangers.” Introduce the idea of respite well in advance of when you might want to start using it. Involve the care recipient in respite service planning to smooth the transition and use positive language to show your excitement about the opportunity.

Step Seven: Make the Most of Respite

Use respite early and as frequently as possible. Planning is key to making sure your respite time is enjoyable. Focus on you! The goal is to take care of yourself while ensuring your loved one is safe and secure.

Step Eight: Orienting Respite Providers

Create a checklist of essential information (your contact information, the care recipient’s preferences and needs of daily living, etc.) for the respite provider and summarize key information in a “grab and go” package. If the respite provider is qualified to perform medical tasks, dedicate sufficient time before you leave to demonstrate preferred approaches.

Step Nine: Find Out About Other Helpful Resources

Although being a caregiver is rewarding, it can also be challenging. There are several other types of resources that can help you find the most desirable, safe and appropriate respite options and other useful services. See the list.

About ARCH Respite

The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center assists and promotes the development of quality respite and crisis care programs, helps families locate respite and crisis care services in their communities, and serves as a strong voice for respite in all forums.



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