What is respite care

Short-term care for the person with Parkinson’s, either in a group setting or in the home, to allow the primary caregiver to a break from caregiving responsibilities. Most respite care is provided for a few hours. Out-of-home respite programs allow the person with Parkinson’s a change of scenery and opportunity to socialize at the same time they give caregivers much-needed time for themselves. When the person with Parkinson’s is too debilitated to leave home easily or is reluctant to do so, or there are complicating factors such as coexisting Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, in-home respite care may be the better option. Often respite care providers send two people for in-home respite care, to assure that the person with Parkinson’s is never left alone and that activities such as assisted transfer can be performed safely.

Whether respite care occurs in the home or in a group setting away from home, it is prudent to provide written instructions about essential information such as medications, dosages, and schedules; particular problems such as loss of balance during a change from a sitting to a standing position; food preferences; and other details that will make it easier for the respite staff to provide good care. Many but not all states regulate respite care services; it is essential to verify credentials and references, particularly for in-home respite care. Some medicaid programs pay for respite care services; medicare and most private medical insurance plans do not. Senior centers, churches, and hospitals sometimes offer volunteer, low-cost, or donation-funded respite care programs and services.

Caregivers sometimes feel guilty about leaving the person with Parkinson’s in the care of strangers, even for just a few hours. It is important for caregivers to take care of themselves, and taking a short break now and again helps them to recharge and revitalize their own energy. When circumstances become such that the person with Parkinson’s requires fairly constant attention and care, it is a treat for the caregiver to sit quietly and read a book, go to a movie, or just wander around a mall. Some caregivers use respite care to allow them to take care of extended chores such as servicing the car or going to the dentist. However, caregivers should try to use some of their respite time entirely for themselves. Circumstances permitting, it is good to schedule respite care on a regular basis. This pattern lets the caregiver plan activities and gives the person with Parkinson’s the opportunity to get to know the respite staff or program.