Respite Stays Benefit Everyone, Especially Alzheimer’s Caregivers
Posted on October 16, 2014
In the past year, 15.5 million family and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer's and other dementias. Nearly 60 percent of these caregivers rate their emotional stress as high or very high, and more than one-third report symptoms of depression. When a survey co-sponsored by The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP asked such caregivers what they needed most, the majority responded “free time or a break for themselves.”
Respite care, a service offered by The Village at Waveny, provides caregivers with a temporary break from caregiving by providing safe, temporary lodging and care for individuals with memory loss. It enables caregivers to rest, relax and catch up with family and friends.
“Individuals who provide care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s need to take advantage of services that allow them to step away from the caregiver role from time to time,” said Susan Klehm, RN, Director of Resident Care at The Village at Waveny – a unique residence designed to provide the most advanced therapeutic benefits for people with memory loss. “Respite services offer adult children and spouses of people with memory loss a chance to recharge their batteries. When you are involved in 24-hour care, day-to-day tasks are harder to take care of and you begin to neglect your own needs. A short placement in a safe and therapeutic environment enables caregivers to attend to themselves and other family members appropriately.”
As a group, Alzheimer's caregivers are twice as likely as other caregivers to be providing the highest levels of care for more than 40 hours a week, and thus face a greater risk of developing such stress-induced conditions. Respite services can alleviate some caregiver burden and, in doing so, help to maintain personal well-being and a healthy lifestyle.
“Caregivers should know that we welcome short-term guests for stays as brief as a week or as long as a month or more,” said Ginny Carroll, Director of Admissions at Waveny. “Whether taking a vacation or simply enjoying some time to themselves, caregivers can enjoy peace of mind knowing their loved one is safe and being cared for by a highly-qualified compassionate staff.” Many caregivers find that when care is resumed at home after a respite stay, it can be a little less stressful for everyone.
There are numerous benefits offered to individuals with memory loss through a short-term stay in a therapeutic residential setting. The Village’s comprehensive program of social, recreational, cultural and memory-enhancing activities helps to enhance each respite guest’s health and well-being. In addition, assessments for rehabilitation to increase strength and balance are available, as are complete medication assessments and evaluations for services that can enable a safe return home – possibly for a longer length of time. Short-term stays also enable families and seniors to gain a sense of trust and confidence in caregivers outside the home.
“It is truly in a caregiver’s best interest to schedule respite stays into his or her loved one’s care plan, so they don’t burn themselves out physically and emotionally,” said Waveny Campus Administrator, Ron Bucci. “Unfortunately,” he added, “some caregivers feel it is selfish to focus on their own needs or believe that no one can care for their family member like they can. They end up waiting until they are overwhelmed and exhausted before getting help. Such situations are detrimental to all parties involved. Caregivers should know that they are not alone and that there are highly-qualified people and community resources available to help them.”
Bucci also emphasized that in addition to using respite services during a personal emergency or in order to regain some time for personal rejuvenation, a respite stay can serve as a helpful and convenient way for families and potential residents to “try out” assisted living before long-term decisions are made.
“If an older adult needs 24-hour assistance,” said Bucci, “short-term stays can provide a much-needed opportunity for caregivers and care recipients to ‘test the water’ in an assisted living residence. Many of our families find that their loved ones quickly take comfort in the secure, caring setting offered at The Village and enjoy the camaraderie and activities shared with their peers while they are here.”
Waveny LifeCare Network provides a comprehensive continuum of healthcare to serve the growing needs of older adults from all areas. Waveny is a not-for-profit organization that offers independent living at The Inn, assisted living for people with Alzheimer’s and memory loss at The Village, and skilled nursing at Waveny Care Center. It also includes Waveny Home Healthcare, Waveny at Home, the Brown Geriatric Evaluation Clinic, a Geriatric Care Management team that provides 24-hour coverage, an Adult Day Program available on weekdays with flexible hours, inpatient and outpatient Rehabilitation Services, and respite programs at The Village and Care Center. For information call 1-855-WAVENY-1 or visit www.waveny.org.