To best prepare for the next stages of life, planning for care services well in advance can go a long way to provide peace of mind and well-being for the patient and their loved ones. With so many end-of-life decisions facing seniors, it’s necessary to discuss the patient’s wishes long before age-related illnesses begin to take hold.
For temporary relief, otherwise known as respite, to regular caregivers, respite care is a family home service that provides an option for short-term health assistance. A period of respite care can be a much-needed break for family members that take on the caregiver role. After all, no one can give much to others when their own well has run dry.
In essence, respite services cover anything that the primary caregiver would provide. These tasks may include routine hygiene, assisting with getting dressed, administration of medications, conducting therapeutic treatments, planning and preparing meals, shopping, and other aspects of caring for another person. As such, respite care is meant to serve as a complete replacement for the standard caregiver.
With a need for individual attention, respite care is customized to fit each unique patient. Some respite caregivers may even be trained in other treatments, such as physical therapy or management of medication, in order to expand the services they can offer. Additionally, respite services provide one-on-one attention and mental stimulation for the individual. Even in the short-term, a respite caregiver can provide conversation, outings, games, and other forms of social companionship.
Another way to secure respite care is to look into Adult Day Care centers. These facilities offer a safe environment where the patient can interact with others who are in similar situations. For a social bonus, these centers frequently host musical and artistic activities, and may even provide transportation and meals.
Just as any other absence from a job, respite must be planned in advance. It is typically a short-term service, lasting anywhere from a few hours a day to several weeks at a time. For assistance in taking care of loved ones during their final days, hospice care becomes the next step.
Unlike the short-term nature of respite care, hospice is an extensive, and ultimate, plan that assists patients facing a life-limiting illness or injury. These individuals have already reached a terminal stage in their diagnosis, typically when physicians determine a lack of available treatments or estimate six months or less left to live. At this point of declining health, the aim of hospice is to keep the patient comfortable and retain quality of life for as long as remains. This focus on caring, not curing, is at the heart of the services that hospice care can provide.
During hospice care, the patient’s primary caregiver coordinates with the hospice team on a ‘round-the-clock care plan that focuses on pain management and symptom control. This hospice team usually consists of the individual’s physician, a hospice physician or medical director, nurses, home health aides, social workers, clergy or other counselors, trained volunteers, and physical therapists. When the time comes, the hospice team can also provide bereavement care to support the patient’s surviving family and friends.
While hospice care provides endless medical support, the primary caregiver remains responsible for day-to-day care. When that caregiver must take time to care for themselves or other loved ones, temporary respite care can be arranged to coordinate with the support that hospice care provides.
Whether it’s respite care, hospice care, or an eventual combination of both, these support services can take place either at home or in a professional facility. The patient's desires, tempered with advice from their physician, should form the basis of all medical decisions. A care plan can be adjusted at any time, and there is no commitment to remain in hospice if situations change.
A quick, local search for respite care or hospice care is the first step to forming an ideal care plan. Once a family can rest assured that their loved one is fully cared for, they can more thoroughly enjoy what really matters - quality time with each other.