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Four Factors To Consider When Using Respite Care For A Dementia Patient For The First Time

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In 2016, over 350,000 Australians were thought to have dementia. Dementia is a debilitating disorder which interrupts brain functions. It impacts memory, the ability to perform daily tasks and the opportunity to interact in social settings. As a carer for a parent with dementia, you want to take your first ever break from being a caregiver during the upcoming Christmas holidays. Respite care is the opportunity for you to take a vacation for a set period of time without leaving your parent alone and without the help they need. Here are four factors to consider before you make your first respite booking.

Where Do You Want The Care To Take Place?

When it comes to respite care, there are a number of different options about where the care can take place. The two most popular choices are to have a carer come to the home of the dementia patient or for the patient to go to a respite care facility. When it comes to the early stages of dementia, confusion of surroundings is one symptom which often presents itself. If this is the current mental state of your parent, then remaining at their own home during the care is the better option. The familiarity of their recognisable surroundings often helps to calm the patient.

One thing which will upset the patient is your absence, so this is the second factor to consider.

Getting The Patient Used To A New Carer

It is not feasible for you to look after a dementia patient 365 days a year. While this is the first time you are booking a holiday for yourself and using respite care, there will be other opportunities for you to use respite care in the future. In order for your parent to get used to having a different carer looking after them, arrange for respite care to begin now rather than starting at the same time as your holiday. Start off with a few hours per week where a carer will come to your parent while you leave the house and tackle some chores. You can increase the number of hours as you get closer to the holiday, and this increased familiarity means your parent is not left with someone totally foreign to them when it is time for you to take your Christmas break.

Book Sooner Rather Than Later

Getting a dementia patient used to receiving care from another person takes time. Once you know the date of your holiday, you should make a booking for respite care straight away. There are two reasons why:

  1. Christmas holidays are a time when a lot of Australians travel to be with their families. Demand for respite carers peaks at this time of year, and you don't want to find out there's no one available to take care of your dementia patient.
  2. The earlier you book, the sooner you can start having visits from the proposed carer. This gives you ample time to get your parent used to the new carer without putting extra stress on your life and theirs.

The Cost Of Care

There are so many different options for respite care that it is impossible to state specifically what the cost of respite care is to you. However, the best starting point to find out information on what types of care are covered by government subsidy is to contact your closest Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre. The staff at the centre have details about subsidies and out-of-pocket care costs.

The sooner you start looking into your options for respite care, the better the chance that your parent will have a continuance of care without stress while you are away on a much-deserved holiday. 

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