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Respite care is designed to give caregivers a much needed break. As much as you love your family member, the day-to-day demands of caring for them becomes stressful over time. Through respite services, you can share the responsibility of caring for your loved one while also getting some support (and time!) for yourself. Thankfully, respite services are simple. You call the shots. You decide how often and how long you need the services, as well as what you want the caregiver to do.

Here are some helpful tips for making the most out of respite care.

Keep Checklists Handy

Communication is key when sharing the caregiving responsibility, but you don’t want to spend too much time filling the respite caregiver in on all the details when you should be enjoying time to yourself. At the same time, you don’t want something to go unnoticed, either. For the best communication and accurate caregiving, use checklists to show what has been done. Also keep lists of likes, dislikes, important phone numbers and tips.

Arrange for Backup Plans

Things happen. Backup plans are important for you and your loved one, so be sure to keep a list of alternate respite caregivers and resources. Working with an agency is helpful because you can be assured that someone will be able to relieve you. Just because a change of plans occurs doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care for yourself.

Schedule Frequent Breaks

Don’t think of respite care as a luxury service. It’s necessary for you and your loved one. If you’re not happy or healthy, then you can’t be the caregiver that you want to be. Schedule respite care as often as you feel you need it, and don’t forget to leverage other family members, neighbors or friends who offer help.

Attend Support Groups

In addition to breaks, you also need a good support network. You will find support in your respite caregiver, but it’s also nice to break away and talk to others in your same position, caring for their loved one. It’s refreshing to meet in person with a support group, but if you can’t do that, there are forums, message boards, online communities and online support groups you can be a part of.