Help for the Holidays: Respite Options for Massachusetts Caregivers

If you are a Massachusetts caregiver for an aging parent or loved one, you probably know the risk factors this role creates for you. Caregiver stress is a contributing factor in health problems ranging from hypertension to diabetes to and heart disease. The holiday season can be one of the most difficult times of year for caregivers to juggle all their responsibilities.

What can Massachusetts caregivers do to survive the holidays without putting a loved one at risk?Fotolia 36386375 XS

There are two types of respite care to help caregivers: formal and informal. 

Informal Respite:

  • You have no doubt had friends and families offer to “help.” Instead of the typical caregiver response, “No, I’m fine” allow yourself to say “Yes, I do need some help.” Ask them to stay with your loved one for an hour or two or to run errands for you. Think about what would really be of help to you this holiday season and ask for that. Many caregivers struggle to accept that it is alright to have someone else provide care for their aging family member.
  • If you belong to a church or synagogue, investigate what elder care resources they may have available. Many religious organizations have volunteers who act as friendly visitors for shut-ins or parish nurse programs.
  • Call your area agency on aging. They are usually aware of local resources that provide respite services. Some may even offer sliding scale fees for lower income adults.

Paid Respite Providers:

  • Personal care aides can come in to the home to provide support for your loved one in their own familiar environment. Be sure to ask any agency you interview what their minimum hours are, how long they have been in business and what kind of background checks they run on their caregivers. Also, before you make a decision on an in-home care partner, be sure to meet with them in person.

Other Respite Options:

  • Adult day programs can be an additional solution. These services are typically operated by area non-profits like The Alzheimer’s Association, a disability organization or a local church. Many offer some type of transportation service.
  • Don’t overlook your local assisted living community or nursing home. Many offer respite programs that allow your loved one to stay at the community for up to one month. Costs can be fairly reasonable and Medicaid may cover respite stay costs in some states.

Have more questions? The National Respite Network has a comprehensive guide The ABCs of Respite for Family Caregivers that you can download at no cost.

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