My 87-year-old mother lives with me. I will be going away on a trip for two weeks and don't know how to bring up respite care. What's the best approach?

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I feel for you mmurill. Last year I had to let my mom know that I needed to get away for a long weekend and she needed to get respite care. It was touchy -- and what makes it even touchier is that is her house and her finances so basically I told her to open up her checkbook and make the call because I'm not in charge here (my mom has advanced PD and can function intellectually -- for now but her body is shot). She tried to lay on a little bit of a guilt trip about how she knows I don't want to be here to help her and blah blah blah. But I was firm and held my ground. You have to take care of yourself. It's hard -- you feel guilty because you're not the sick one but that's life. We caregivers don't get to live a life like others as it is so we have to make it happen sometimes. If you are in charge of the house and finances, make the call and open up the checkbook.
As a paid caregiver, I would only add one thing to the above comments (which are great). Bring the caregiver you select over to meet your mom as far in advance as you can. One thing I'm always aware of is that my presence IS an invasion into the private life of an elderly person. I strive to be as gentle and respectful as I can. Having you bring someone you've found, that you trust, into her home WITH YOU and making the introduction at a stress-less time (not right when you're leaving), would probably go a long way toward making her more comfortable. You could say this is a person who cares for several people in their homes, and who is going to be visiting while you're gone, to take care of all those things you don't want Mom to worry about... I've always found acceptance with those elderlies, other than the confusion that comes with Dementia (Who are you again? Why are you here?)

I couldn't agree more with K...never feel guilty for taking a bit of "me" is in your and your parent's best interest for you to stay healthy.
I take care of my Mom's finances and worry more about her investments than she does. But when I think about how much I am saving her by doing all that I do, I do not think it would be unreasonable to hire in-home help or take her to respite care for a few days. Could you imagine how our parent's resources would be impacted if they had to pay for all the care we provide for free? And that is my goal: to save Mom's assets so that she can stay in her home for as long as possible.
Bottom line, is that you are saving your Mom's assets by helping her out. Going to respite care is a "medical" issue and that is certainly a legitimate expense. Don't worry about it and do it more often so she realizes that you have respect for yourself and your health.
Ruth, is right. I forgot to add that not only did we meet the caregiver and got acquanited with the agency before I took the trip, my mom LOVES this person they sent and wanted no one else BUT this person for the future (which may prove to be problematic and unrealistic if that caregiver has other committments but that bridge will be crossed when it has to). A lot of what Ruth says is true. It is an invasion of their privacy. Unfortunately, my mother's PD has rendered her more and more helpless. Her way of handling it is to deny that she can't do things she once did or pretend that she's going to 'get better'. God Bless Respite Care though!!!
Thank you for the responses. I do have someone come in to be with Mom when I am working my second job in the evenings. My problem is I don't know whether I feel comfortable leaving mom in the house for that long a period or if it would be better to put her in assisted living for respite care. She does crossword puzzles all day but I provide meals, give her pills, help bathe her. She says she is o.k. with being by herself but I have never left her alone for so long. She does have memory issues. What are your feelings with her remaining in the home versus assisted living?
Contact the agency you want to provide the respite care, and have them speak with the two of you. Most of the mtime we are experts at this conversation, and can lead it in a helpful and guiltless manner.
Only you know the actual hands on care that your mother needs. If you feel that the person who is coming into the home will not be able to provide the additional care and you want peace of mind you should call around and see if there is an ALF that also has a day center/activities that will meet her needs. Depending on the severity of her memory problems she may have to be placed on the dementia floor to keep her safe from leaving the facility. After you have checked out all of your available options then you will have a better idea how to present to mom. If mom is in the mild stage of memory loss- ask her which she would prefer. The bottom line is that there is nothing worse than going away and worrying that everything is fine. Do what gives YOU peace of mind.
Heck, I have had to put off any vacations or trips for the past 12 years dealing with mom...good luck on taking a trip...I am jealous :-) lol.
Hi All -

Another timely question for me. I am fixated on taking a mini-vacation with my daughter this summer. We have never had more than 2 overnights away a year in her life and now she is headed off to college. I have already started to introduce the idea to my mom - will get an agency in to check on her a couple times a day and have a wealth of friends who will be there for her if she needs anything. But, fear she will sabatoge at the last minute.
Mmuriel-To me, the best way is to be stright forward with your Mom, as in the long run she will find out. You can explain to her that it is a win win situation for all. If you are NOt able to do this, than contact a social worker on aging in your community for their advise. Many of us here in this forum have faced this at one time or another, and are sharing our experiences. How this matter is handled-is between finalized between you and your Mom.
Best to all parties concerned-and keep in mind, an efficient caregiver also needs some "me time"---DON'T deprive yourself.

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