Question: My husband and I want to go on vacation, but we cannot leave his mother alone. Any suggestions?
Answer: You could set up a “mutual vacation,” wherein she takes a “vacation” at a quality assisted facility while you and your husband go out of town. Many assisted living facilities are delighted to have a short-stay guest, often referred to as “respite care.” She may enjoy all of the attention and dining out every day, along with the security of having her physical needs met. Just make sure this option is okay with her, and you both should visit the facility ahead of time. She should not feel like she is being abandoned or “set-up” for eventually placement in what she may consider a nursing home. A refundable deposit is required by most facilities, depending on the length of stay. Here’s how one person described the experience of vationing this way:
“We personally visited several retirement communities, eliminated some on sight and others because they did not provide the flexability we needed. The one we ultimately chose had neither a minimum nor a maximum period for so-called “respite” care. We planned our lvoed one’s vacation so that she entered the facility a day or two or three days on the other end. That way, if adjustment problems arose, or meditation problems surfaced (that happens!) we would be around to see to the problem. At the other end of the vacation period, we had a couple of days to unpack and “re-enter” without coping with caregiving needs. During the vacation period, we made arrangements for drop-in visits by friends of the family. We also planned the mailing of cards so that the week was pretty much covered by mail each day. We arranged for the newspaper to be delivered to her so that she has her own paper for crossword puzzles, etc. We arranged with a local florist to have a fresh arrangement sent at midpoint to cheer up the room and remind her that we were thinking of her. (For a man, some florists will make up and deliver “snack baskets” with little boxes and bags of this and that). As a bonus, when the time came for her to enter assisted living full time, she related to her very pleasant ‘vacations’ rather than feeling threatened or, at worst, abandoned.”
Thus, with some thoughtful planning and homework, you can enjoy a vacation while your mother-in-law is safely cared for. If your loved one does not need 24/7 care, you might want to consider bringing in someone from a non-medical senior care agency. Taking a break from caregiving, whether it’s a vacation or simply enjoying an afternoon to yourself, is far beyond a luxury-it’s essential. Have a great time.
Information provided by Dr. Linda Rhodes, Finding Your Way, 250 Real Life Questions and Commonsense Answers http://lindarhodescaregiving.com/index.htm