We owe it to our aging or disabled loved ones to care for them. Often, this means dedicating time to this responsibility. According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, adult caregivers dedicate roughly 20 hours weekly to caregiving.
Nonetheless, caregivers may struggle to balance this responsibility with other items on their to-do list, such as work, school, family, and leisure. Thankfully, respite care helps caregivers find relief and balance in their lives. Correspondingly, WeCare Senior Placements offers free personalized assessments to help families find feasible respite care plans for their loved ones.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is a temporary solution to the demands of caregiving. This short-term assistance helps family members, neighbors, friends, or professional caregivers take a breather while others help them. It could be as brief as a few hours or days. Some of the various types of respite care include:
- In-home professional care – Professional caregivers provide care in the home.
- Adult daycare – This provides a safe, stimulating environment for adults during the day.
- Community programs – Numerous communities provide complimentary programs and services to relieve the caregiving burden on family members.
- Transportation alternatives – These may include ride-sharing services or discounted public transportation services available to older people.
- Respite care facility – A specialized center where a patient stays for short-term care.
Unfortunately, expending most of your energy on caregiving can leave you with an empty tank, leading to burnout and the inability to continue caring for your loved one. In fact, a 2020 National Alliance for Caregiving survey reports that over 23% of Americans acknowledged that caregiving caused them health concerns.
Respite care gives primary caregivers a much-needed break by temporarily relieving the physical and emotional stress of caring for someone at home. Sometimes, respite care might imply delegating the responsibility to informal caregivers. This entails asking family members, friends, or neighbors to fill in for you.
How Respite Care Benefits Caregivers
Everyone deserves rest. Unfortunately, caregivers often shoulder the responsibility of caring for their elderly or disabled loved ones, sometimes neglecting their own health.
This realization often occurs once the damage is already done – after symptoms of self-neglect appear. For instance, many caregivers experience high levels of fatigue, pain in the back, neck, shoulders, and headaches. Others experience emotional symptoms such as stress, anxiety, irritability, sadness, loneliness, and depression.
Thankfully, taking a break allows caregivers to tend to their needs, after which they can return to their role. These could include regular medical check-ups, getting enough sleep, exercising, running errands, reading books, spending quality time with friends, or engaging in hobbies. Respite care also helps caregivers in the following ways:
- Rest and restoration– Without relaxation or rest, your productivity generally drops. The body has an incredible capacity for healing and recovery, but that means giving it time to recharge. Rest also helps alleviate the aforementioned symptoms, letting you return to your role feeling revitalized.
- Increasing alertness– Lack of sleep can lead to inattention and forgetfulness. Rest helps restore your cognitive abilities, allowing you can better attend to your loved one.
- Promoting self-care– Caregivers often neglect their needs while caring for others. Respite care helps address this by allowing them to prioritize their lives as they engage in activities they enjoy.
- Boosting morale– Taking a break helps caregivers appreciate their role more. Once refreshed, they typically feel ready to take on the challenges of caring for loved ones with enthusiasm.
- Improving relationships– Caregiving might be rewarding but can also bring out the worst in your relationships. Respite care offers you some ‘alone time’, helping strengthen the bond between you and your loved one. Put differently, it keeps you from dwelling on the negative aspects of caregiving (the tedium and the stress included).
- Enhancing your social life– Your friendships and sense of community could suffer if you get too caught up in caregiving. Respite care allows you to connect with the people in your circle – family or friends.
- Encouraging self-identity– It’s easy to forget the person you were when caring for someone else. And the loss of identity could manifest in different ways, such as depression. Thankfully, respite care helps you keep sight of your role without neglecting who you are.
Respite care ensures loved ones continue receiving premium care as caregivers recharge in readiness for the next challenge. And while it’s fulfilling to care for loved ones, even the caregiver needs some TLC to keep burnout and other issues at bay. Only then can caregivers fully fulfill their challenging responsibility.