Dear Donna:

My father moved in with my husband and me due to concerns about his poor nutrition and weight loss. While his health has improved, he’s still unsteady on his feet. He’s just not safe alone.

We have an out-of-town wedding coming up that we would love to attend. I’ve started researching respite care at local assisted living communities for my dad to stay at while we are gone. I’m hoping it’s the right option.

Most of what I’ve read indicates respite gives caregivers a break. My concern is whether we can go out of town while my dad is at the assisted living community. It’s only a few hours’ drive, but I am wondering how the staff would handle it if dad had an emergency while we were away.

Any insight into respite care would be greatly appreciated.


Laine in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Understanding Respite Care in Assisted Living

Dear Laine:

Great question! Respite is designed to give caregivers a break, and that includes going out of town. If an emergency were to occur, the staff at the assisted living community would follow well-established protocols. They’ll contact you immediately and keep you informed, just as they would the family of any long-term resident.

Respite guests also benefit from the same level of personal care and support as permanent residents, such as:

  • Furnished space: Respite guests have a fully furnished apartment or suite with safety features, like an emergency call system, grab bars, and handrails. You can also bring some of your dad’s favorite belongings to make it feel like home, such as photos or a favorite blanket.
  • Onsite caregivers 24/7: You’ll have peace of mind knowing caregivers are nearby day and night. Should your dad need a helping hand getting to the bathroom or taking his morning shower, staff will be close by.
  • Nutritious meals: Three well-balanced meals and healthy snacks are provided every day. Respite guests usually have their choice of meals and mealtimes.
  • Daily life enrichment activities: There are a variety of opportunities to participate in daily life enrichment programs and wellness activities. Some popular ones are art workshops, fitness programs, book clubs, and gardening.
  • Transportation: Another advantage of respite care is transportation services. If your dad needs to get to the dentist or attend another appointment, transportation can likely be arranged.
  • Medication assistance: Respite care also includes some form of medication management. As mistakes with medication are more common with age, this is an important service to take advantage of during a respite stay.
  • Laundry and housekeeping: Respite guests also benefit from laundry and housekeeping services. The frequency of both varies by community and resident need.

If you have more questions about respite care, call the nearest Heritage Senior Community. One of our experienced team members will be happy to help!

Kind regards,