Community Stories/News

Understanding Dementia: Respite Options for Caregivers

By Mary Bates, MS, CT, Certified Dementia Practitioner

Caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias strive their best to provide quality care for their loved ones. Over time, however, the burden of providing round-the-clock care can lead to stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety, anger and other symptoms of caregiver burnout.

It can be difficult for family members to admit that they can’t take care of all of their loved one’s needs, but it is important to their physical and mental health to balance their own self-care with overseeing their loved one’s well-being.

Sometimes primary caregivers have to look elsewhere to ensure that their family member receives the best care. Respite care is a viable option that can provide some break time each week or for longer periods, like overnight or vacations.

In-home Care Services

Home health aides and home care companions can assist with the activities of daily living, providing several hours each week of respite for the caregiver. This could be a good fit for a loved one in the earlier stages of dementia when they require minimal supervision, but need assistance with some tasks like meal preparation, medication management or housekeeping. If a loved one is in the later stages of dementia and needs constant supervision to ensure their safety then a caregiver who must be gone all day because of work commitments or for an overnight excursion would have to hire someone to live in and provide around the clock care.

Adult Day Care Centers Programs:

Adult Day Care Programs provide an opportunity for socialization, recreation and other activities in a supervised environment outside the home. Attendees can socialize with others and participate in activities like music, arts and crafts and simple exercise programs. Staff members are trained in dementia care. Hours vary; some facilities may provide snacks and meals,  along with transportation.

Temporary Stays or Respite:

In-home care and adult day programs are excellent options for short-term reprieves, but extended breaks like vacations require a different approach. Some senior living facilities offer short  stays, called “Respite”. These brief stays are often overnight or for a few days and offer the caregiver a break in their usual routine. Care is provided in a  supervised, safe environment by staff who are trained in dementia care.

Sources of information and referral for caregivers include:

ServiceLink:         1-866-634-9412

Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline:        800-272-3900        “Nursing Home Compare”

Mary Bates, MS, CT, is a Certified Dementia Practitioner. She is the Assisted Living and Memory Care Director of Summit by Morrison, a senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite care.

Through this column, Mary will share the experience, knowledge, and resources she and her team rely on, anticipating that it will be useful for anyone living with, caring for, or coming into contact with a person with dementia. Send your questions to Understanding Dementia at Summit, 56 Summit Drive, Whitefield, NH 03598 or email Mary will share information and answer as many questions as possible through this column.


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