Caring for aging loved ones is a noble endeavor, but it can come with tremendous challenges. Family caregivers can sometimes endure an enormous amount of physical, emotional, and financial strain. It’s difficult to provide optimal care for your loved one if you are unwell. This is where respite care enters the picture, offering caregivers a much-needed break.
What is respite care?
It is simply temporary care from someone other than the primary caregiver. It could be a professional, a friend, a relative, or even a volunteer. First, the primary caregiver must understand their own needs. How much time do you need away from your duties? How frequently do you need breaks? Then, you must determine the needs of the senior, and select a caregiver who can meet those needs adequately. For example, if you need three hours on Saturday to do some shopping and your loved one just needs some companionship during that time perhaps a teenage relative could fill that gap. Alternatively, if you need a three-day break, you may need to hire a professional who can handle more intense tasks.
Benefits of respite care
The positive results of respite care are not only useful for the caregiver, but also for the person receiving care. When the caregiver is well, her or she is able to provide the best care.
- Relaxation – Dedicating a little time to yourself is calming and can improve your mood. Do not underestimate the power of relaxation.
- Re-energize – A vehicle cannot run on an empty tank of gas. Similarly, the human body needs fuel and energy to function properly. You must feed the body, mind, and soul to rejuvenate.
- Surroundings – It’s important to spend some quality time away from the care-giving environment to avoid burnout. Simply hanging out in a different space can be tremendously helpful.
- Changing perspective – Stepping outside of your care-giving duties allows you to look at things from a fresh perspective. You can see the bigger picture and possibly find better solutions and new ways of handling things.
- Maintaining identity – Your role as a caregiver is important, but it should not consume your identity. You are a complete person and getting frequent breaks helps you remember that you are more than a caregiver.
- Socialize – Isolation can be a serious problem for caregivers. Allow time for social engagement and interaction. Do things that you enjoy with people you like.
It may be difficult to find respite care. However, if you tap into all your resources, you will likely find assistance. If you do not have friends or relatives to help, check with local organizations. Many communities have volunteer respite programs. The ARCH National Respite Network is a great online source for more information.