Companionship: Let Respite Care Renew Your Spirit
Respite care is more than simple nanny services. It provides the caregiver with much needed time to recharge so they can carry on with caring for their loved ones. If you have home health care services already coming to your home, you can ask to contract for respite care and for caregiver support. This can give you the peace of mind that you need knowing that there is a commitment that will relieve you every day or every week for a certain amount of time. In the home health care world, these people are called companions or elder care companions.
What Do Companions Do?
Generally, a companion will keep your loved one active by initiating friendly chat, helping with meals, or light personal care (depending on agency guidelines). During this time, you can run errands, take a nap, see a movie, whatever you need to get some respite care for yourself. Companions are usually contracted for up to 4 hours a day. Often insurance will pay for companion care. Medicare will only pay for medical expenses for your loved one. It will not pay for companion care, which is different than home health care services. You will have to privately pay for a companion if insurance and the Medicare you have will not. Remember that Medicare has several parts to it. Check with your home health social worker to determine any eligibility for respite care.
What About Friends and Family?
If you have a reliable support network of friends and family, ask them to help for a few hours each week. This can be free of charge or for a small amount of pay, whatever works best for your family dynamics. Enlisting family and friends that understand your home health care situation is beneficial because they often already know the patient and the situation. Just make sure that friends and family know that if they make the commitment to come stay with your loved one, that they need to show up unless it is an emergency. Hard feelings can persist long after care is needed.
Letting Go of the Responsibility
Respite care can help you gain needed time for your own care. But sometimes it is hard to let go of responsibility, especially if you have taken on the burden of care for a long time. It takes trust, letting go of fears that something will happen when you are away, and letting go of your daily routine to rejuvenate your own spirit and care. Remember, that it is not just the journey of your loved one needing home health care and daily nanny services. It is your journey as well, and you need to care for yourself so you can continue to care for others.