What short-term in-house elder care options when caregivers need to go out of town?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Are there organizations that help with in-house care if the caregivers need to leave for a few days? We have a son who is a senior in an out-of-state school and we will need to be with him next semester for various reasons.

Expert Answer

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Good respite care is one of the biggest needs for those who are caring for loved ones. Fortunately, there are a number of options. If you want to keep your parent at home while you're traveling, here are some ways to set up the care with the best chance for success:

Well in advance of your planned trips, find a person either through a home care agency (which you can locate in the yellow pages or through the Administration on Aging's Eldercare Locator), or through private connections. Bring that person into your home as another member of your family team. Have her work a couple of weekends with you there so you and your parent can get to know her, then have her work a few afternoons while you go out. Make sure that you like the caregiver and that she connects well with your family.

Try to get a commitment for all of the days that you'll be gone during the coming semester. Hiring two people who can take turns with the care may provide more security, especially if your trips will be frequent or you’ll be away for the entire extended period.

You might also consider asking a friend or another family member to visit or even stay while you're away, in addition to any paid caregivers. So that you're not imposing, don't ask the friend or family member to do any caregiving "work" other than sharing and perhaps preparing meals and being a friendly presence in and out of the house.

If money is an issue, check with your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what services are available within your community. Most of the grants have income guidelines, based on the income of the care recipient. Also check with the National Family Caregivers Alliance.They sponsor some programs that can be of real benefit to the family caregiver.