January 30th, 2019 | BY: Allegra Chaney

Caregiver Vacation: When and How to Take a Break

Dear Allegra,

My husband and I are the primary caregivers for his father. He moved in with us after he experienced a stroke 18 months ago. We were hoping that with continued rehabilitation, Dad would recover enough to move home or at least to an assisted living community.

Since that time, he’s been in and out of the hospital. Unfortunately, he is mostly bedbound now. It takes both my husband and I to transfer him to his wheelchair.

Needless to say, the two of us are pretty worn out. We are both having back problems, and my blood pressure has become an issue for the first time.

Our primary care physician suggested my husband and I get away for a week. While it sounds great, we aren’t sure if caregiver vacations are even possible.

Do you have any suggestions?

Kind regards,

Wendy

Tips for a Smoother Caregiver Vacation

Dear Wendy,

It sounds like your family has been through a very difficult time!

Caring for a senior who is largely confined to their bed is physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s not surprising that you and your husband are experiencing health problems of your own. From back injuries to depression, caregivers experience higher rates of medical issues than their non-caregiving peers.

A caregiver vacation is one of the best ways to restore your sense of well-being. Fortunately, there are senior care options that make it possible for caregivers to get away and relax. Respite care is designed for this very purpose.

This short-term care option gives caregivers like you a chance to take the break you need while ensuring a senior loved one receives the attention and care they deserve. Short-term care is also an option when unforeseen circumstances arise, such as a caregiver experiencing a crisis of their own.

Experienced caregivers come right to your home to assist your loved one with personal care and everyday tasks.

Despite its importance, respite care is underutilized. According to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, only 12% of family caregivers take advantage of respite care.

Interviewing Home Care Providers

When it comes time to select a home care agency to provide respite services for your father-in-law, here are a few questions you should ask:

  1. Are caregivers employees of the agency or contract workers?
  2. How are caregivers screened? Are background checks conducted?
  3. Are all employees who will be coming to the home bonded?
  4. Who supervises caregivers, especially those who will be in the home overnight?
  5. Will you have an opportunity to meet the caregivers ahead of time and introduce them to your father-in-law?
  6. What is the average length of employment for caregivers?
  7. What are the hourly and daily rates? Is a contract required?
  8. What happens if a caregiver becomes ill or has an emergency?
  9. If there is an emergency with your father-in-law, how will the agency respond?

I hope this information helps give you peace of mind and allows you and your husband to have a relaxing caregiver vacation.

Sincerely,

Allegra