Whether you’ve just begun caring for an elderly loved one or have been an involved caregiver for a while now, you may have encountered the term “respite care.” What is it? How do you know if it’s a service you need?
The Caregiver’s Burden
Until recently, there wasn’t much information about the effects of caretaking on the people providing care. As the senior population has continued to grow, however, more people have taken up the mantle of “caregiver.”
In many cases, the task of caring for elderly relatives falls to adult children or younger female relatives. In today’s society, however, most families are centred on two parents and their dependent children. Most households are dual-income, meaning both parents work, often full-time. Adding the care of an elderly relative, particularly a parent, creates additional responsibilities and stresses.
The Aging Adult
Many caregivers also struggle with providing care to their elderly relatives. In addition to the constraints of work and household responsibilities, they may also struggle with their relationship with an elderly and aging parent. It can be very difficult for adult children to see their parents become frail and ill.
This is particularly true for people whose parents suffer from diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. The emotional burden of caring for an elderly and ill parent is very heavy.
People may also struggle to provide the best care possible. Not everyone is a qualified nurse! Even though most caregivers want the best for their elderly loved one and do their utmost to provide it, they may lack the training, knowledge, or resources necessary.
All of this adds up on the caregiver’s plate. Caring for an ill person at any age or stage of life is difficult and emotionally taxing. Competency in providing care is another struggle. Workplace policies and obligations to children and others create even more pressure.
This, on top of the actual act of providing ongoing, quality care, leads to what researchers have termed “caregiver burnout.” Caregivers may become so distressed and stressed that they develop their own health issues. They may become depressed, fatigued, or ill.
Research highlights the need for caregivers to take care of themselves in order to avoid caregiver burnout. If you’re not healthy yourself, you won’t be able to provide quality care to your elderly loved one on a regular basis. Caregiver burnout will also affect other areas of your life, including at work and at home.
Caregivers should enlist help where they can get it. This can include getting a helping hand from professional senior care workers. Even other relatives can help ease the responsibility.
Caregivers should also be sure to give themselves time to relax and unwind. While it’s important to de-stress on a regular basis, there may be times when you want to get away for longer. This is where respite care comes into play.
Give Me a Break
Caregivers may need to take holidays from their caregiving responsibilities. After all, you’ve no doubt thought you needed a vacation from work every once in a while! The nature of caregiving, however, isn’t friendly to the idea of vacations. Your elderly loved one still needs to take their medications or make it to their doctor’s appointment even though you want to take a week off.
Respite care offers the solution. If you need time off, whether because you need to travel for work or other responsibilities or even just because you need a break, respite care can provide for your elderly loved one while you take the time you need.
Most respite care places the elderly person in a short-term care facility. You’ll know they’re safe and sound, receiving excellent care. You get the break you need.
If you’re feeling burned out or overwhelmed, or if you need to travel, look into respite care. It could be the solution you’re looking for.