Everyone deserves a vacation from time to time, but you’ve refrained for so long because you’re a family caregiver and you have no idea what you’d do with your aging parents while you’re away.
What kind of elderly care options do you have available while you go on vacation?
Here are some elder care options that a home caregiver can take advantage of when going on vacation:
- Adult child or relative care
- Hire a home care aide
- Have a daytime caregiver stay over
- Short term assisted living
- Take them with you on a family vacation
Even if your senior parent isn’t residing in assisted living or a nursing home, with a little planning, you can still take a vacation and feel confident that they’re in good hands. In this article, I’ll discuss all the logistics so you can finally book that trip.
What do You do With Elderly Parents When You Go on Vacation?
According to Allina Health, taking some vacation time can improve your happiness, reduce feelings of burnout, enhance familial relationships, make you feel more motivated, and benefit your general health (both mental and physical).
If you’re a primary caregiver, though, before you can get into vacation mode, you need to figure out what you’ll do with the elderly family members under your care.
This recently happened to a friend of mine who called me, desperate for suggestions on how she and her husband could take a break but also ensure her father was well taken care of while they took some time off.
I gave her the options I mentioned in the intro. Let’s look at them a little more in-depth.
Ask An Adult Child or Family Member to Take Over The Care
Unless you’re an only child, you have other adult siblings in the family who should be able to pick up the slack while you’re gone.
If not a sibling, then you may have other able-bodied relatives in the vicinity. Perhaps they can take over the caregiving responsibilities for a while.
The emphasis is on able-bodied.
Asking an ailing senior to care for another ailing senior is never a good idea. Neither person is going to get the care they need, and you’ll likely come home to find both elderly people worse for wear.
That will make you never want to take a vacation again.
If you are going to ask an adult child or relative to care for your senior parents out of the goodness of their hearts, you definitely don’t want to take a two-week vacation. Keep it to a couple of days or a week, tops, so you don’t majorly inconvenience the other person.
Although her siblings initially balked at the idea of taking over the responsibilities of their father’s care, this is what ultimately worked out for the friend I mentioned earlier. She shortened her trip from two weeks to 10 days and her brother and his wife agreed to step in.
It turned into a second win for her because her brother finally realized how challenging their father’s care was and he agreed to give her a much needed break more often in the future.
Hire a Home Care Aide or Agency
The next option is to hire a home care aide to stay with your elderly parents for the duration of your vacation.
Even though you’ll only need the home care aide for a limited period of several days to a week or two, you still want to do the legwork and ensure you choose a suitable candidate for the job.
Firstly, you want to confirm that the home care aide is licensed. If they’re not, then even if you’re in a bind, you should not hire this person. They are more than likely not qualified to provide the services your senior parents need.
You can select a home care agency to provide a home care aide, or you can hire an aide privately. You will have to do more legwork with the latter, meeting with various home care aides and interviewing them. However, their services will cost less.
If you choose an agency, then you can rest assured that all the staff has been vetted and is qualified to provide the level of care you’ve requested for your senior. That said, hiring temporary help through an agency will be more expensive because the agency will take a cut.
You don’t necessarily have to use the home care aide or agency’s services just that once. If you like the services they provide and those services fit your budget, you can always rely on them again in the future.
Have a Daytime Caregiver Provide Extended Care
Does your senior parent already have a daytime caregiver? If so, then you might be able to incentivize them to provide extended care during your vacation by paying the caregiver extra.
Now, I do want to stress that this could very well go against the terms of the daytime caregiver’s contract. If they work for a company, then they might not be allowed to take on the additional work even if they want to.
That’s something you should be prepared for if you choose this option. I would recommend having a backup plan in mind.
Further, even if your daytime caregiver is available to provide extended care, then I’d again caution you against taking an ultra-long vacation.
Short-Term Assisted Living
Did you know that many assisted living communities offer short-term stays? Well, they do and that could be an excellent option for your senior parent.
Short-term assisted living stays can be beneficial for seniors who need support for a limited amount of time. Perhaps you are going away on vacation or have to leave for an extended period of time and don’t want your elderly parent to be alone.
Short-term assisted living offers a safe and comforting environment with the same services typical of long-term care facilities, such as daily meals, light housekeeping, medication reminders, social activities, and 24-hour security.
It is important to note that not all assisted living facilities offer short-term stays; therefore, it is wise to check with your local facility before committing to a stay.
Take Your Elderly Parents With You
There is always the option of bringing your elderly parents on vacation with you.
This last option is not something that’s preferable to most vacationing families (it’s also something we’ve dedicated an entire blog post to, so be sure to check it out).
I’d definitely recommend that you only settle on this option after exhausting every other possible avenue above.
While having an elderly travel companion isn’t impossible, it will make what’s supposed to be a relaxing time a little less relaxing.
That said, here are some ideas for places for adult children to go with senior relatives:
- One option is to stay closer to home and visit family or friends who can help with caregiving duties. Or consider organizing a family reunion.
- Another idea is to book a villa or rental property in a private home that has enough space for everyone and all of their belongings.
- Or, you could look into options for all-inclusive resorts that offer activities and amenities for both caregivers and care recipients. This can be an excellent option if you want to enjoy some rest and relaxation without having to worry about planning meals or activities.
- Consider a road trip. Road trips can be a great option if you want to explore different parts of the country or simply take in the sights of your own state or province. When planning your route, remember that senior travelers often have different needs than younger folks. Be sure to factor in frequent stops for restroom breaks and any other amenities that will make their trip more comfortable.
- Another option is to book a cruise. A cruise ship offers everyone a great way to relax, plus they take care of meal preparation and room upkeep, which will help you enjoy some time away from the everyday demands of caregiving.
How Do You Take Care of An Elderly Parent From a Distance?
You thought you were okay leaving your elderly parent in the care of your adult sibling or a home health aide. Then you arrived at your vacation destination and your head began to fill – not with thoughts of your itinerary, but with worry about how your senior parent is doing.
This happened to me on a cruise once.
My 95-year-old dad lived on his own in a senior living community that saw to his needs. But I still was worried about him. I ended up calling him from each port, just to be sure he was okay. Needless to say, this didn’t give me the stress-free vacation I had planned on!
We wrote a post about caring for an elderly parent from a distance, so this section will largely serve as a recap of some of our top advice for when you’re stuck in this tough situation. I’ll also add some new tips.
Check in With Their Care Provider Daily
Older adults might not always be able to verbally express how they’re doing, especially if they have certain diseases like dementia.
Checking with your parents’ caregiver on a regular basis is the best way to get the information you need about their pain levels, activity levels, eating habits, and other care areas for the day.
Have The Right Documents in Place
To make caretaking in your absence as smooth as possible, you need to have certain paperwork in place for your senior parents ahead of time. That includes medical information, insurance and financial information, and legal documents.
Speaking of having the right documents – don’t forget to purchase travel insurance for your trip. You never know if there will be an emergency back home that requires you to cancel your plans at the last minute.
Ask to Video Chat
Video chatting every other day, if not every day, is recommended, as well. This way, you can actually see your senior parents and look for signs that they’re not receiving proper care such as disheveled clothing/hair, gauntness, and bruises or other injuries.
You can also see the state of their home to determine if conditions are being kept up.
How Can I Monitor My Elderly Parents at Home?
Technology sure is great, huh? Whether you’re vacationing or traveling for work, you can rely on a variety of technology to keep a virtual eye on your elderly parents even when you can’t be with them physically.
We’ve discussed such options here on the blog, so this section too will serve as a recap.
Alexa Care Hub
If either of your senior parents has an Alexa-powered device, then they really should use the Alexa Together / Care Hub. It’s a feature made for family caregivers just like yourself.
The Care Hub reviews the activities of a senior on their Amazon Echo. You can oversee that your elderly parent is going about their routine as normal, which can give you tremendous peace of mind, especially when traveling or vacationing.
Medical Alert Monitoring
The Family1st Belle+ medical alert is another excellent service for seniors. The pendant has fall detection technology and indicates immediately if a senior falls.
They’ll also be able to have emergency services summoned to them so they’re not stranded for hours in their bathroom or kitchen unable to reach the phone.
One of the best features of the Family1st medical alert is that it cannot be canceled once an alert has been triggered. This means your parent can’t accidentally cancel their request for help by pushing the button numerous times in their panic.
From security cameras to monitoring systems, a new type of technology known as grandparent monitors has arisen that’s quite valuable to adult caretakers such as yourself.
You can watch video feeds of your senior parents’ home, and with motion detection sensors, you’ll know immediately if something is amiss.
Does Medicare Pay For Short-Term Assisted Living?
Perhaps you’ve decided that the best option for your elderly parent, while you take your family on vacation, is a short-term stay in an assisted living facility. It wasn’t your top choice, but it’s either this or skip your vacation.
Since you’re only looking into short-term assisted living, does Medicare pay for that or will you have to shell out for the expenses yourself?
Medicare typically doesn’t cover the costs of assisted living, whether it’s very short-term or longer-term. So, if this was an option you’re considering for your senior parents while you go on vacation, the financial responsibility would be on you.
You might also consider talking to your family and friends about pitching in to help cover the costs while you’re away.
That said, while Medicare doesn’t pay for traditional long-term care, it will sometimes cover short-term stays in an assisted living facility – if they are considered medically necessary.
This means that if your doctor feels that it is necessary for you to have someone look after your parent while you’re gone, Medicare *might* provide some financial assistance. I recommend speaking with a Medicare representative to find out more.
Going on vacation without your elderly parents can leave you wracked with a lot of guilt, but it shouldn’t.
If you can find the right care for your senior parents, such as a home health aide, short-term assisted living, or even a relative or adult child stepping in, then you can enjoy your vacation and reap its benefits to the fullest!