A Respite in Assisted Living: Seeing a Community Up Close

As the adult child of an aging parent that requires some assistance with activities of daily living, you may be in the position of being your mother or father’s primary caregiver. If that is the situation you are in, you are far from alone. In this day and age, a majority of older Americans who are in need of at least some caregiver assistance are aided by family members – typically spouses of adult children.

Serving as your aging parent’s primary caregiver can prove to be a challenging endeavor, at least to some degree. Even though you are committed to assisting your mother or father as needed, you also have your own health and well-being to consider. As time goes on as your parent’s caregiver, two considerations may arise:

  • First, you are only human. As with any other task in life that requires your concentration and effort, when it comes to serving as a parental caregiver, you will need a break. As a result, you might want to consider respite care. Respite care allows you to take a break from being on call for your mother or father while knowing that your parent will continue to receive appropriate care and assistance.
  • Second, you may be nearing a point in time where the day-to-day needs of your parents are expanding beyond what you can effectively provide.

In this article, we discuss the confluence of respite care and assisted living. Such a situation actually can provide you with not only a needed break from providing assistance for your parent but can give you and your mother or father the to check out an assisted living community up close. We take a look at how attending respite care can be part of a broader due diligence effort to find the most appropriate, suitable assisted living community for the longer term.

Respite Care: Defined

Before taking a closer look at how a bit of time in respite care can provide you and your parent an opportunity to consider an assisted living community as a long-term care option for your mother of father, we take a moment to discuss both respite care and assisted living. Respite care is defined as proving short-term relief for primary caregivers, according to the National Institute on Aging. A “substitute” caregiver is scheduled to ensure that your parent received the assistance needed while you take a break and spend time on other personal matters.

Respite care can be arranged for an afternoon, for several days, or even weeks, depending on your needs and situation. Respite care can be provided at home, in a healthcare facility, or at an adult day center. A good many assisted living facilities offer respite care options.

Assisted Living: Defined

Forbes magazine has developed a meaningful and accurate definition and description of assisted living:

Assisted living communities are for older adults who want to remain independent in a home-like setting but need non-medical assistance with activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include such things as meal preparation, bathing, dressing, maintaining good hygiene, toileting, transportation, and medication management. The person in assisted living typically pays monthly rent for a private apartment or room and an additional fee for the level of care needed.

Residents of an assisted living community in the United States generally have access to shared common areas. Depending on the particular community, shared common areas might include dining and activity rooms, a cinema room, a library, a pool, walking paths, or other nature settings on the grounds. Assisted living communities range from those offering basics like daily meals and activities to those with what consist of more luxurious accommodations and amenities that might include spas and bars. Assisted living communities are typically staffed 24 hours a day. They also usually provide up to three prepared meals a day, as well as housekeeping, and some transportation services.

Is a Particular Assisted Living Community Right for You (or Your Parent)?

Now that you have a general idea of what is involved with respite care as well as assisted living, you truly can kill two birds with one stone in some instances if you are in need of respite care and have identified some assisted living communities in your area that offer this service. By taking advantage of respite care offered by an assisted living community, your mother or father actually can experience life in one location or another. Indeed, you might want to consider taking advantage of respite care services at more than one assisted living community over time to get a better idea of what life for your parent would be like from one facility to another.

Even though all assisted living communities offer similar basic services, there are distinctions and differences that do exist from one facility to another that can prove fairly significant. In addition, each assisted living community has its own unique ambiance. Ultimately, the best way – perhaps the only way – to really get a solid feel for a particular assisted living community is spending a bit of time in it. An up close and personal examination of an assisted living community that happens by taking advantage of respite care services can be an invaluable part of the decision-making process if your parent (or you) are contemplating the possibility of moving into this type of senior living alternative.

Resources to Find Respite Care Assistance

If you are interested in locating respite care in your community, there are a number of resources available to you that can assist you in that endeavor. This includes helping you find an assisted living community that offers respite services for caregivers.

The ARCH National Respite Locator Service can help you find services in your community. In addition, the Well Spouse Association offers support to the wives, husbands, and partners of chronically ill or disabled people and has a nationwide listing of local support groups. You can connect with these and other resources as follows:

National Respite Locator Service

Well Spouse Association

Eldercare Locator

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
877-486-2048 (TTY)