Summer is a great season for people to visit assisted living communities. There is ample time to explore your options, make an informed choice, and move in before the snow begins to fly. For adult children, having a parent settled before winter brings peace of mind. But what can you do if a senior loved one is anxious about making such a big transition? How can you encourage them that it’s time for a change?
One option to consider is to take advantage of respite care at an assisted living community. These short-term programs were originally designed to give weary caregivers a break. They can, however, fill another role. They can give seniors an opportunity to be a guest of the community for a few weeks or months to see if it is a good fit.
What Is Respite Care?
Respite care is a solution that offers support and peace of mind to caregivers. When a family member needs a break, respite programs at an assisted living community give the senior a safe place to stay. Depending on what state the community is located in and their regulations, respite guests can usually remain at an assisted living community for a few days or several months.
Despite how easily convenient these programs are, few families take advantage of them. According to a study by the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP, only 12 percent of family caregivers utilize respite care. Some caregivers are unaware of respite care, and others may feel guilty turning a loved one’s care over to someone else. But experts say that routine use of respite services can make a family member a better caregiver, because they have time to rest and take care of their own health.
Respite guests enjoy the same support and amenities as long-term residents of the community do:
- A furnished, private living space or suite
- Well-balanced meals and snacks
- 24/7 caregiver support
- Medication management assistance
- Community activities in which to participate
- Transportation services for local appointments
- Emergency call systems to summon help, if needed
If it sounds like respite is an option you’d like to pursue, here are a few tips for discussing the idea with your senior family member.
Talking With a Senior About Respite Care
- Be honest: First, reassure your family member that this isn’t a sneaky way to get them to move to an assisted living community. Talk about the respite suite and that it typically isn’t a place for long-term residents. It might help if you refer to it as a “trial stay” so the senior understands it isn’t permanent unless they want it to be.
- Choose dates carefully: Talk with the staff to see what activities and events are coming up that might be of special interest to your loved one. By carefully timing their respite stay, you can help them see how vibrant senior communities are. It might also be useful to make sure your family member knows there is both a start date and an end date for their stay.
- Let them choose the community: To the extent possible, make certain the senior is involved in the process. Visit communities together. Encourage them to ask questions. And, allow them to make the decision on which community they’d like to try.
- Pack a few favorite belongings: While you won’t want to go overboard and make your family member worry this is a permanent arrangement, do pack some of their favorite possessions. Family photos, favorite snacks, their iPad, a few books, and more. Just enough that the respite suite can look and feel more like home.
- Ask for team support: Finally, be sure to communicate with the team at the assisted living community so they know you are hoping this might turn into a permanent move. They’ll be able to introduce your family member to residents with shared interests, help them navigate around the community, and explore activities to participate in.
Respite Care at Sunrise
Sunrise Senior Living communities across the country offer respite care. These short-term stays are a popular service with older adults and their families. Call (888) 434-4648 today to learn more about respite care at a Sunrise community near you!