Holidays are a time of joy and celebration, but when a loved one is terminally ill, this festive time of year also invokes sadness and grief. With the holiday season upon us, it might make sense to consider hospice respite care for a loved one with an advanced illness.

The holiday frenzy often means you’re stretched too thin, dealing with guilt for not being fully engaged in either celebrating or caregiving. Instead of risking caregiver burnout, consider an option that provides an opportunity for self-care: respite care. Respite care is a short-term level of care for hospice patients, provided for up to five consecutive days of inpatient care in a Medicare-approved inpatient facility, nursing facility, or hospital.

Hospice respite gives the caregiver and family members time to rest or catch up on other priorities. If a patient is at home, inpatient respite can offer your loved one a safe and welcoming environment while you (the caregiver) are tending to other needs.

When to Consider Respite Care

If you’d like to travel for a special family gathering, consider respite care. If you need to focus on preparations for family coming into town while knowing your loved one is being well-cared for, inquire about respite care. If you need rest after making sure the last holiday with your loved one was memorable, look into respite care. Create special moments, but don’t shoulder all of the responsibility by yourself.

If you simply need a break from the physical, mental, and emotional strain of full-time caregiving, talk to your hospice team and let them help you find a trusted Medicare-approved respite center. They can help you evaluate the timing of respite in coordination with your loved one’s medical status.

According to Medicare, “Your hospice provider will arrange this for you. You can stay up to five days each time you get respite care. You can get respite care more than once, but only on an occasional basis.”

The Comforts & Benefits of Respite Care

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for,” author Maya Angelou wisely wrote. Caregiver burnout is real and just a few days of relief can provide the necessary rest in order to feel refreshed and encouraged. Respite care benefits both the caregivers and the patients. 

For the hospice patient, respite provides:

  • Care with 24-hour nurses, aides, and/or practitioners to ensure the family’s hospice care plan is carried out (such as pain management, medications, and level of independence). 
  • Reduced guilt and stress from relying on their caregiver.
  • Increased social opportunities in a safe environment outside the home.
  • A change of scenery for your homebound loved one. 

For the caregiver, respite offers:

  • Assurance their loved one is being cared for.
  • Reduced holiday-related stress and guilt.
  • Time to catch up on other responsibilities.
  • Flexibility to travel or attend an important life event.
  • Recovery from personal illness or physical and emotional exhaustion.

Respite Coverage & Cost

Note that this type of care needs to be prearranged and approved by the hospice provider. While many insurances (including Medicare) help cover respite care, there may be a minimal cost to the family. Check with your insurance provider before entering into respite care. 

You could also call on hospice volunteers, aides, and others to provide short-term breaks for you in the home. Other options include paying for a nursing facility or private nursing coverage.For much-needed rest, inquire about respite care options today, which is one of the levels of care provided by Heart to Heart Hospice. For respite, Heart to Heart Hospice offers several inpatient centers that provide a warm, homelike environment with 24-hour care and around-the-clock family access. Hospice patients will appreciate private rooms in a tranquil environment where family, children, and qualified pets are welcome. Patients can personalize the room with pictures and visitors. The inpatient centers are located in Texas (Houston and Fort Worth), Indiana (Evansville), and Michigan (Detroit area).