Acting as a primary caregiver for a senior loved one can be a big responsibility and a big undertaking. However, even the most dedicated of caregivers need a break from time to time. This is why there are respite care services.
Respite care is essentially short-term care meant to provide relief for a primary caregiver. Many times, caregivers will use these care services when they are planning on traveling or leaving for a vacation. This can be a great way to make sure that caregivers get the break they need in order to refocus their attention back on their senior loved one and to get the rest and relaxation they require to be the best caregiver possible.
However, the prospect of leaving a senior loved one, whether it is for a day or for a month, can be overwhelming to any permanent, full-time caregiver to leave their loved one alone. This is why it is so important for caregivers to have a respite care checklist that they follow. This checklist can help the new respite care provider have all of the information that they need, while allowing caregivers to have some peace of mind when they take some time away. These are the things that every caregiver should have in place before a respite care service steps in.
Always start with the basics when it comes to leaving information for a new respite care provider. It can seem pretty standard, but many caregivers get so overwhelmed with the details that they forget to cover the basics before they leave. This includes:
- Senior's name
- Dates the caregiver will be gone from
- Location the caregiver is traveling to
- Contact information from the caregiver
- Hours care is expected (full time/part time)
- Allergies that the senior has
Every caregiver should leave behind detailed medical information on their senior loved one, in case of an emergency. The more information a respite care provider has, the better off they will be. This information should include:
- Any diseases the senior suffers from
- Symptoms the seniors may exhibit
- Information for primary care physician
- Location of nearest hospital
- Medical insurance information
- Emergency contact information
- Who to call in case of an emergency
- List of all medications including dosage, time the medication is given and any special instructions
- Warnings on how to take medications and which medications shouldn't be mixed
- Instructions on over-the-counter medications such as Advil for headaches or cold medicine for allergies
The more information that a caregiver can provide on their loved one's normal routine, the better. This includes:
- Time the senior usually wakes up
- Time the senior usually goes to bed
- What their bedtime routine is
- When the senior usually showers
- All meal times
- Activities they do in the morning
- Activities they do before bed
- When they exercise, if applicable
- What they like to wear
- When they eat snacks during the day
- When they usually use the restroom
- What activities they like to do and don't like to do
Many seniors will not only need daily care, but they will also need help from their respite care provider when it comes to making appointments. Before leaving, caregivers should list all of the appointments the senior has including doctor’s appointments, haircuts, activities, scheduled times to see family and friends and more. If someone is planning on visiting the home, make sure that the respite care provider has a list of all visitors that plan on coming by, including their names. This is an important safety precaution that can help both the senior and the caregiver.
A respite care provider is likely coming into this care situation with no prior knowledge of who the senior is or what their care needs may be. This is why it is so important to detail all of this information.
Answer the following questions about the senior:
- Can they move unassisted or do they require a wheelchair/lift of walker?
- Do they need help getting in and out of bed?
- Does the senior need help using the toilet?
- Do they have an emergency bell should they need to use the toilet in the middle of the night?
- Is the senior prone to falling?
- Do they need a cane or walker when leaving the home?
- Can the senior walk up stairs on their own?
- Can the senior dress themselves in the morning?
- Can the senior bathe themselves?
- Does the senior need help with their grooming routine? What is their grooming routine?
- Can the senior prepare meals on their own?
- Can the senior eat meals on their own? Do they need feeding assistance? Are their foods they struggle with?
- Is the senior afraid of anything?
- Is there anything that causes the senior to be aggressive?
- Does the senior have dementia or cognitive challenges that may cause disturbances in behavior?
- Do they like to play games?
- Do they like to go outside? Do they need to wear a hat or sunscreen when going outside?
All of these details should be covered by the primary caregiver before they leave their loved one in the hands of a respite care provider. One of the best ways to make sure all of these details are covered is to write everything out and have the respite care provider come over before the primary caregiver leaves. This will give the caregiver the opportunity to go over some details and let the respite provider learn where things are. This also gives the senior and the respite care provider a chance to meet one another with the primary care provider present.
Taking these extra steps and following this checklist is a great way to make sure that seniors are getting the care that they need from their respite provider, whenever their caregiver needs to take some time to themselves.