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Respite Care: Options for Seniors and Caregivers

For many of today’s Canadians, providing care to an senior relative is a way of life. Many families provide services as volunteer caregivers so their parent or other relative can remain living at home, in a familiar and comfortable environment. The amount of care required by the senior in their care is dependent on the degree of disability or illness, but the situation can still be very stressful for caregivers over time. The physical, emotional, and even financial burdens can become overwhelming, despite the best intentions of the caregiver.

Care for Caregivers

In order to maintain the healthy relationship between the caregiver and senior, respite care offers a number of options. Respite care plays a large role in helping caregivers to maintain their own health, reduce stress levels, and either avoid or delay their loved ones permanent placement in a specialized facility, depending on the level of care needed for their particular condition. Respite care can provide welcome caregiver relief and can also be a positive experience for the person receiving care.

In-home Care

There are a number of different kinds of respite care for the elderly. A respite program for in-home care involves an individual taking over short-term duties, for just a few hours or overnight. This allows the caregiver to go to work, take care of business or financial matters, or just have a well-deserved break, comfortable in the knowledge that their elderly relative is safe and receiving the attention they need in their daily life.

In-home respite care can involve helping to entertain, supervise, provide company for a senior, or help with shopping, cooking or housework. Some seniors may need assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, or going to the bathroom. Other family members, friends, neighbours, or volunteer groups such as churches or local agencies can provide in-home care. In-home care might also involve skilled caregivers who are needed to help administer important medications.

Respite Homes and Short-term Care

Other temporary options may include communities like AgeCare offering short-term care for seniors. Adult day centres are a good option for seniors who have difficulty living independently for long periods or who are lonely or isolated. These usually operate from Monday to Friday during working hours and have planned activities throughout the day, with healthy food and the ability to accommodate special diets. These kinds of facilities provide a safe and supportive environment, with access to health care if needed, providing caregivers with both relief and the knowledge that their family members are safe and well cared for. Respite homes may also serve to familiarize seniors about a facility if they are still able to make an informed decision about their own future.

Specialized Options

There are also programs offering recovery care after an illness or senior post-operative care just for a short period. Seniors requiring more in-depth care for a limited time may need to be accommodated in a convalescent care facility. These either provide or have access to specialized medical and emergency care should it ever be required.