Has anyone put your loved one in a nursing home for a week to take a respite vacation?


I am 55 and a full time, live in caregiver for my mother who has mid-stage Alzheimer's. No major health problems. Every year my primary care doctor urges me to take a vacation for my health and ultimately for my mother’s continued well being (me being healthy enough to continue to take care of her). Sounds all well and good, but I am sure mom would feel abandoned and confused while I was away from her. Would she be permanently set back? Her neurologist says yes. Okay, case closed. But I am interested in feedback pro or con on this issue. By the way, having someone stay with her at home is out of the question because I don’t have anyone I can trust anyone with that responsibility.

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I also am a caregiver for my mom 24/7. I am exhausted and need to take time off to be able to continue caring for her and not giving up. I am in California, however, I don't know what nursing facilities do provide this kind of short vacation stay. Please advise.
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You might try a weekend at first, to see how she does. You might be able to relax more knowing you're not leaving her for a very long time. If she does well, you could plan a couple more weekends. That would give you something to look forward to, and if she actually liked the place, she would have something to look forward to as well.
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My MIL found respite care for her husband (needs some assistance, fall risk, mild ALZ) at Arbor Glen (AL, Dementia care facility). She placed him there for 2 weeks and it was a good experience for both (although he didn't participate in many activities there due to his own stubborness). She went on a cruise. She has had in -home care previously; but it wasn't a good experience as upon her return, she found that he had told them they could go home early some days, missed some of his meds, told them not to come in on the last 2 days etc. unbeknown to her as they didn't call and check with her even though they were supposed to stay there.

She felt much better leaving him at respite care at the facility where he was checked on regularly, in safe environment and had his meals and some socialization. She was more relaxed on her trip as well.

This took some planning and visiting facilities filling out necessary paperwork, dr reports, etc. but she did this in advance. Also she took him in 2 days before her trip to get him settled, then visited him once before she left. She also was able to come home a couple days before picking him up so that gave her a few extra days front end and back end of the trip to relax and get re-organized. She said she would definitely do it this way again.

Arbor Glen had her son and daughter telephone numbers for emergencies.

Its about $165/day -- but well worth it if you can budget as part of your trip. Hey, thats cheaper than taking the person with you! Its also cheaper than CNA 24/7 while you are away.

I would approach your mom and say, this is a vacation for you at the club while I'm away. "we'll get to share our memories together when I get back" -- "mom, make sure you tell me all about your fun activities and outings"; "mom, I hear they have wonderful food at this club; you'll get treated like a queen"...Maybe leave her with a calendar, marked off when you will be back, the activities you will do when you return, etc.

Good luck.
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I never go away overnight anymore. I have no one I can ask to stay with my mom either, so I understand how you feel. I take days off now and then and go shopping or to see friends and just have some time to relax. The most I do is take a day trip. I used to be able to take my mom with me on bus trips. Now she gets tired too easily. To cheer myself up, I look at photos from trips I took before I started caregiving. I hope to stay healthy enough to travel again some day.
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You are the best judge of what your Mom can or cannot handle. Doctors are nice to have around, but the best thing they get is a snapshot of your Mom's condition during that 10 minute time period during her appointments. And as you are acutely aware, her mental status could be just fine or in the toilet that day.

I you think she can handle it, approach it like a vacation for HER. Give her all the re-assurance you possibly can that you are not leaving her behind, and call her everyday.

You are doing the right thing by taking the time now to take care of yourself while your Mom is still well enough to deal with this SHORT absence. You will return refreshed and better able to take care of her both physically and mentally.

Please write me and let me know what you decide. We are all in this together, and remember, there are lots of us out here that will support you.

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