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Respite Care For Dementia & Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Dementia respite care

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For those who are caregivers to their loved ones who are living with dementia, dementia respite care is a great option to help you with the much-needed break you may need. Respite care is available to help provide a new safe environment and caregiving services to help address your loved one’s needs. The caregiving could be for a few hours a week, or several days in the week, based on your needs as a caretaker. 

What Is Respite Care?

Dementia respite care is a break from the typical care routine your loved one is used to, allowing the caregiver downtime and time needed to run errands without leaving your loved one with dementia alone. Care continues for your loved one thanks to qualified individuals and services providing a safe environment to temporarily help your loved one. 

Respite care can be given from the following:

  • Paid staff, volunteers, family, and friends. 
  • Respite care can be provided in the home, a community center, or a residential care center for adults. 
  • Respite care can be for a few hours, part of the day, evenings, or overnight. 
  • This service can be offered on an ongoing regular basis or as needed by the caretaker. 

Why Should You Take Advantage Of Dementia Respite Care?

Dementia respite care can be a huge benefit to caretakers. Most caretakers are trying to balance work, family, and other responsibilities. Respite care allows the caregiver the opportunity to meet all these other needs while keeping their loved one safe. 

Respite care can:

  • Give you the chance to relax and decompress. 
  • Spend time with friends. 
  • Go out to lunch or dinner
  • Allows you to run errands, make doctor’s appointments, exercise, and get your haircut. 
  • Respite care gives you increased peace of mind knowing that your loved one living with dementia is safe and cared for by a trusted caregiver. 

Respite care also benefits your loved one who is living with dementia. 

Respite care can:

  • Allow your loved one who is living with dementia to interact with others who are also going through similar experiences. 
  • Allows your loved one to spend time in a safe environment with new safe opportunities. 
  • It helps them socialize and participate in safe activities. 

What Type Of Dementia Respite Care Is Available?


While there are many different types of respite care options, these are the five main types of respite used for those living with dementia

1. In-Home Respite Care

In-home respite care is a service that occurs within the home of the loved one living with dementia to help with them in various ways. Services can vary based on needs. 

These services may include companionship, personal care, homemaking, and skilled care services.

2. Companion Services

Companion services help supervise your loved one when you are unable to. They also participate in recreational activities and visit with your loved one. 

3. Personal Care Services

Some respite workers help with personal care services. Personal care service respite workers help with the day-to-day activities that your loved one may need extra assistance with. This may include things like help with bathing, getting dressed, using the bathroom, and exercising. 

4. Homemaking Services

Those who provide homemaking services help with the shopping, cooking, meal prep, house cleaning, and laundry. 

5. Skilled Care Services

A licensed professional provides a skilled care respite service. This can include helping with wound care, injections, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Home health care agencies can help find someone to help with these services once a doctor prescribes them. 

In-home respite care workers may be employed privately or with an agency. You want to make sure that the worker you hire has proper training and skills to help with your loved ones’ specific needs. 

Typically in-home respite care is not covered by Medicare, but financial assistance is usually available. 

Tips For Choosing An In-Home Respite Worker

Tips For Choosing An In-Home Respite Worker

These tips can help you find the right in-home respite worker to help care for your loved one. 

1. Create A list Of Care Needs

Creating a list of needs will help you contact the right respite workers that can help. 

2. Call First

Plan to make several phone calls to potential respite workers. Determine if their services fit your needs.

3. In-Person Interview

Invite them to an in-person interview. Be sure to ask them any questions that you may have. Be sure to find out the following:

  • Are your CPR certified?
  • Have you worked with dementia patients?
  • Are you with an agency?
  • Are you bonded and insured?
  • May I have references?
  • Do you have availability? (Be sure this fits your needs as well as your loved one’s needs)
  • How do you feel about taking this case?

4. Ask For References

It is important to call the references to ask questions and determine if you feel good about hiring this respite worker

5. Share Information

Share as much information as you can about your loved one with the respite worker. This helps them bond quickly and gives them things to talk about.

Adult Day Centers

An adult day center provides care to your loved one living with dementia outside the home. These centers are specifically designed to help support strengths and encourage independence while keeping your loved one safe. Adult day centers usually provide a variety of activities in a structured environment. 

Many activities occur at adult day centers. Some may include music, recreation, socialization, support groups, and appropriate and safe games. 

Depending on the adult day center, they may have: a nurse, recreation therapist, music therapist, behavioral therapist, and social workers on staff to help with your loved ones. If your loved one will need medical attention while at the care center, you will want to make sure medical assistance is available. 

These centers are beneficial to caretakers who work as they try to balance all their responsibilities. While hours of adult day centers vary, typically, they are open seven to ten hours per day and will even provide meals and snacks for your loved one. 

Tips For Choosing An Adult Day Center

These tips can help you find the right adult day center for your loved one living with dementia. 

  • Make a list of what you need the center to provide. If this is medical assistance and meals, be sure the desired adult day center offers these options. 
  • Think about your needs and find a center that matches these. Be sure the center is available for the times that you need it most. 
  • Be sure to ask questions. These may include:
  • Is the staff trained in helping patients with dementia?
  • What are the hours you operate?
  • What programs are available?
  • Are nurses and healthcare providers always on-site?
  • What if there is an emergency?
  • Is transportation available?
  • Do I have to commit to a certain length of time?

Before committing, do a month trial run and allow your loved one to attend twice a week. While your loved one may not like it at first, this gives them time to get used to it, and you can then decide if it is right for them. 

Informal Respite

Informal respite is used quite often. Informal respite is asking a family member, friend, or neighbor to watch your loved one while you have a quick break. 

Often caregivers feel bad relying on informal respite services, but they shouldn’t. 

Make a list of friends and family who have volunteered to help with your loved one who is living with dementia. The great thing about informal respite is that you know and trust these individuals, so it may be easier to leave your loved one with them at first. Once you know who would like to help create a schedule of times that they ate available so that you know who you can ask. 

Residential Respite

Residential respite allows your loved one to stay in a safe residential facility overnight. This can be for one day, a few days, or a few weeks. Residential respite care allows you to go on a vacation while your loved one is well cared for in a safe, supervised environment. 

Your insurance company does not cover these services. If you plan to use one of these facilities, you will want to make an appointment right away because availability can fill up quickly. 

When using residential respite care, your loved one may struggle at first as they try to adjust to the new environment. Regular stays in the same residential respite center can help them become more comfortable the more often they stay. 

Tips For Choosing Residential Respite

You may want to consider these tips when choosing a residential resident center. 

  • Be sure to observe the environment of the center. Since you will not be there with your loved one, you would want to ensure that it is a good fit for your loved one. 
  • Is it safe? 
  • Is it clean?
  • Do the residents look happy?
  • Is the staff interacting with the residents? 
  • Stop by unexpectedly a few times at different times of the day to see if it keeps the same standards at all times. 

Respite Care For Emergencies

Many unexpected life events can occur that may cause you to have to use emergency respite care. These may include accidents, surgeries, and other unexpected life events. 

Because these types of events can happen quickly, it is important to be prepared with a list of centers or agencies that can help at a moment’s notice. This may even include talking to individuals you trust that offer informal respite care to see if they would be willing to help if an emergency popped up. 

How To Choose Respite Care Service?

The first step in choosing the right respite care service is determining the type of care you need. Depending on where you live, respite care options may be limited. Reach out to your doctor as well as those who live in the community to see who they recommend. 

Once you gather a list of options, call them on the phone and find out about what their company has to offer. 

  • Services offered
  • Find out their availability 
  • The cost
  • Qualifications / training

Getting your questions answered over the phone can help cut down on respite center visits and in-person interviews. 

Concerns About Using Respite Care

It is normal to have concerns about using respite care. It is new, and you may feel guilty and worry that your loved one who is living with dementia won’t like it. Some other concerns that may come up are cost and reliability.

1. Cost

The cost is the number one concern for most since respite is usually not funded by insurance companies or Medicare. Look for financial assistance opportunities to help. Scholarships, sliding-scale fees, and government programs may be able to help. 

2. Reliable

You may be worried about how reliable the services and those giving care are. If the respite worker works for an agency, they should be well-trained and certified. These individuals should all be very reliable and have someone ready to fill in for them if they cannot make your scheduled respite time. 

3. Guilt

Often caregivers feel guilty for asking for help, feeling like they should be able to do it all. Respite does not just benefit the caregiver who can recharge, but it benefits your loved one who is living with dementia as new opportunities and friendships are formed through respites. 

Preparing For Respite Care

It is important to prepare all individuals for respite care. This includes the provider of respite and the individual living with dementia. 

Preparing Respite Worker

No matter which respite care choice you choose, you will want to talk with the respite workers about your loved one. This helps them become more familiar with your loved one, so they feel more comfortable. It is important that you are honest with your conversation about your loved one who is living with dementia. 

It is helpful to do the following:

  • Write up a brief history of your loved one. 
  • Share pictures of treasured memories and special individuals 
  • Share stories and memories. 

Other important information you will want to share includes:

  • Personality
  • Cognition level
  • Communication skills
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Habits
  • Daily schedule/ routine
  • Family
  • Favorite hobbies and activities
  • Job/occupation
  • Mobility concerns

Preparing Your Loved One For Respite Service

Your loved one who is living with dementia will need time to prepare and adjust to a new caretaker, especially if you will not be there. These tips can help make the transition smoother. 

  • Talk to your loved one about their additional caretaker. 
  • When the respite worker comes to the house, start by saying a new friend is coming to visit.
  • While your loved one may resist at first, remind them that you will always pick them up or be back. 
  • Ask your respite worker or facility for suggestions to make the transition smoother. 

Evaluating Respite Services

It is important to evaluate the respite service care that your loved one is receiving to make sure it is still a good fit for them. Often needs change, and while you may love the services offered, they might not be the best fit for your loved one anymore. 

When evaluating respites services, you may want to think about the following questions:

  • Does the current service meet the needs of my loved one who is living with dementia?
  • Does the current service meet my needs as their caretaker?
  • What is working the best?
  • What is not working?
  • Are there things that are needed that are not currently offered?
  • Can our current service meet these needs that are missing?
  • If the answer is no, where can I go for our current needs?

When it comes to respite care for dementia caregivers, it is important always to ensure that the services ensure the safety of your loved one. You want your loved one to be treated like an individual and not as a patient. The respite worker should feel like family, and the care centers should feel like an additional home to you and your loved one. 

When you keep these things in mind, you will be able to find the best respite workers and centers that your loved one will love that will help relieve the stress of being the sole caretaker on your own. 


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