We all need time away from constant responsibility. Sometimes the best way to care for your loved one is to take an extended break and recharge your batteries.
If your relative is fairly independent, consider these other services that may be helpful:
- A daily check-in call from a friend or nearby relative. Or from a telephone visiting service
- A personal medical alert system (a single-button pendant for summoning emergency help)
- Temporary meal delivery
Also ensure that all bills are up to date or prepaid and that adequate supplies of medications are on hand.
In case of emergency, leave complete information about your relative’s medical insurance, health history, current prescriptions, and doctor and pharmacist contacts. Include a completed advance care directive and instructions about how to reach you or other next of kin.
If your loved one needs lots of help, plan well in advance for care. Options to consider:
- Family members. Whenever possible, ask siblings several months to a year ahead of time. They may need the notice to make arrangements at work. If they live out of town, have them come early so you can orient them to the routines. This is especially important if your relative has memory problems. Familiar routines will help keep your loved one calm.
- Agencies. Allow yourself at least three months’ lead time if you need to hire in-home care. Use the agency for a trial period as training before you go.
- Facilities. Similarly, if you need to find a facility for short-term residential care, start looking three months ahead. Consider taking your relative to the facility for lunch several times before you leave. Your loved one will come to feel more comfortable. Plus, this will keep you top of mind with the staff and administration as they strive to match short-term requests with upcoming vacancies.
- A care manager. Ask about “vacation packages.” A care manager can find and hire care and provide ongoing supervision while you’re away.