Assisted Vacation for Family Caregivers and their loved ones
Guest article by Thomas Stern
There are few things in life as sweet as the moments before leaving for vacation.
The bags are packed, plans have been made, and the anticipation of spending quality time with loved ones makes you feel downright giddy. In older age however, certain health conditions can make vacation impractical or daunting. This was the case in my family.
I spent several years caring for two grandparents who had Alzheimer’s disease. Their progression was slow and over time, vacations became more and more infrequent. I went to nursing school to improve my caregiving skills and when their dementia became more severe, they moved into our home.
Caring for a loved one, no matter what their health condition, is very personal.
As a caregiver, you are the guardian and advocate and nobody can do it as well as you can. Many caregivers find that even if they have the opportunity to take a break, they have trouble relinquishing their caring role.
On one of the few vacations that I did take as a caregiver, I spent a week sitting on a tropical beach miserable and worried that my grandparents were not being cared for as well as they deserved. For me, the options for vacation as a caregiver were:
- Find a willing family-member or friend to provide care.
- Pay a good deal of money to an institution to provide temporary care.
- Take my grandparents along on vacation and hope for the best.
I tried #1 and #3, and neither worked out too well.
I learned to differentiate between
the noun of respite and the adjective of respite.
After my grandparents passed away, I worked as the nurse and healthcare coordinator at an Adult Day Service. From the provider’s perspective, I saw how different caregivers experience respite. I learned to differentiate between the noun of respite and the adjective of respite. When caregivers dropped off loved ones to spend the day in our care, they were using a respite (noun) service. However, it was clear to me that many were not experiencing the respite (adjective) that our service intended. Many of our caregivers couldn’t just drop their lives to get a two-hour massage while their loved one was with us because they had jobs, families, chores and too many balls in the air to simply relax for the day. However, I recognized that some of our caregivers were open to allowing the adjective of respite into their day while others always saw their own well-being as secondary or even tertiary.
While working at the Adult Day Service, I began a graduate program in Health Care Management and focused my efforts on solutions for caregiver respite. Early on, it occurred to me that one of the hindrances to caregiver respite was that their loved one was out of their care. However, it was difficult to achieve respite while in the role of caregiver. It was in an attempt to balance these conflicting realities that I developed “Assisted Vacation.”
On an Assisted Vacation, a skilled, caring nurse supports a caregiver, their loved one and any additional family members on holiday.
The key to a successful Assisted Vacation is designing the holiday in a person-centered way. Thus, the supporting nurse may be available at the holiday destination to provide a few hours of care each day or the nurse may travel with the caregiver and be available for 24/7 support. Assisted Vacations are crafted to the precise needs of our guests. Over the past several years, I have developed a great team of nurses throughout North America and Europe to provide services to guests to and from nearly any destination.
Like any health or wellness service, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to achieving respite as a family caregiver.
For some, a trip away from their loved one is just the ticket to recharge. Assisted Vacation guests value the service because they want their loved one included on their vacation. They can spend time with their loved one but they have the opportunity each day to step out of the areas of caregiving that are stressful.
We recognize that there is a great need for caregiver respite and we are proud to provide Assisted Vacation to improve the quality of life of our guests.
Thomas Stern founded AssistedVacation.com during graduate school. With a team of excellent nurses throughout North America and Europe, they provide Assisted Vacation services to and from nearly any destination. Thomas and his team can support the unique needs of nearly any family caregiver and their loved ones.