caregiver thinking of respite care and holiday

Caregivers face many conflicts…balancing work, family life, and personal time (and their own health and well-being) with caregiving. It isn’t unusual for caregivers to cancel summer vacation plans due to caregiving duties or worries over what will happen if they’re gone.

There is one great solution for the caregiver vacation dilemma…respite care! But, many caregivers don’t know where to find respite care, how it works or how to make it work smoothly for a worry-free (relatively, at least) vacation. Our team is here to help explain more about respite care options so you can determine if it might help you to take that much-needed summer vacation, family trip or even a little staycation.

What is respite care?

Very simply, respite care is substitute care provided to give primary caregivers a break (or respite). This can be provided in a variety of ways–at a care facility, at home or at an adult day care center–on a regular basis as a routine break or for specified periods of time. When the term respite care is used it usually refers to professional caregivers, but of course family and friends can also help provide respite care. Some support groups also arrange free respite care so that you are able to attend and facilities or services may provide temporary respite such as a “caregiver’s day out”.

Who offers respite care and how much will it cost?*

Home care companies**: $17-25/hour

Best for: Those who wish to stay in the comfort of home, clients with Alzheimer’s/dementia (routine/familiarity), clients with visual impairment (familiar/properly arranged environment)

Assisted Living or Nursing Facilities: $100+/day ranging through $400+ for nursing care

Best for: Cost-effective option for several days/weeks or more; typically includes meals, activities and a number of services; a good option as a trial for how a care facility may work out long-term

Adult Day Care Facilities (day programs may be provided by your county, specific organizations, private adult day care centers or within a care facility): $60-80/day (with subsidies available)

Best for: Daytime respite for short breaks or when family/other caregivers can cover the evenings

*Average costs for 2015-16 in the Tampa Bay, Florida area as reference

Organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and disease-specific support organizations may provide financial help or set up respite care for you. These programs may be on a first come, first served basis or done via priority and there may be limited funds and parameters.

** You can also hire private caregivers who will come to the home, but we highly recommend against it for a number of reasons, especially for respite care when you are not available to oversee things.

Will I really be able to take a vacation and have any peace of mind?

Admittedly, this can be difficult and requires some mental (and literal) preparation. If you can do a test run, that helps a lot. You should also download our respite care checklist to set yourself up for success. If you are feeling guilty or too stressed to enjoy yourself, consider talking to someone (support group, counselor, minister, friend) about your feelings. The reality is that everything may not go perfectly, but it works out fine 90% of the time…99% of the time when you’ve tested it out and done some key preparation. A break can help you to be a better caregiver, so don’t think of this as something just for you.

Tip: Caregivers should almost always purchase travel insurance. That way if anything comes up and you do not feel like you can go on your trip, you will not lose the money (check terms and conditions). Your credit card may offer insurance on purchases and specific entities (airlines and tour companies) offer it as well as trip insurance companies. For more extensive travel (trips with multiple destinations or overseas) one of the benefits of a good travel agent is personalized assistance if you need to make changes or encounter problems.

When you are trying to make vacation plans, contact our team for help customizing a plan that works best for you. Our care managers can help you find budget-friendly options and programs to assist, explore how to pull together different resources and create a vacation care plan to make sure it all runs smoothly. We can also oversee the situation for you, if your loved one resides in Tampa Bay (and, provide home caregiver services in Pinellas and Pasco counties).