When a caregiver wants to transfer their responsibilities to another party for a period to receive a break from their duties, they need respite. Taking care of another person full time fulfills many individuals, but they still need a few hours or days away to recharge and refresh. At times, the care may occur over an extended period, when the caregiver has a vacation planned, must spend time in the hospital, or has another matter they need to address.
Through the experiences of our staff and family members of our residents along with peer-reviewed research, we’ve detailed advice and tips about the value of respite care for yourself and your loved one.
The Prevalence of Caregivers Today
Several years ago, the AARP reported approximately 40 million family members cared for an adult receiving no pay. The Centers for Disease Control states over 50 percent of caregivers today witness a decline in their health. This decline interferes with their ability to care for their loved ones. In situations such as this, respite care serves as an answer.
The Stanford Center on Longevity and Stanford University came together to conduct a study regarding the state of individuals caring for a senior with a severe illness. Researchers found that caring for a loved one with a severe illness negatively affected a caregiver’s emotional well-being. The study authored concluded this decline comes from the caregiver’s inability to connect with others and pursue their social goals. Older individuals find their emotional well-being suffers less than the well-being of younger individuals. However, the severity of the illness plays a role in the emotional well-being of the caregiver.
Respite Care for a Much-Needed Break
Individuals might hesitate to ask for a break. They consider doing so as self-indulgent, but nothing is further from the truth. When a person becomes consumed with caring for another individual, they feel emotionally and physically drained. Eventually, they burn out, which harms them and the person they care for. With this break, the caregiver receives the opportunity to de-stress, relax, and restore their physical and emotional reserves.
Benefits of This Break
Caregivers need to walk away for a bit and get time for themselves. They may choose to read a book, visit a friend, listen to music, or anything that makes them happy and reminds them they have a life outside of their caregiving duties. The time will come when they don’t need to provide this level of care, as the individual has moved to a senior living community or other accommodation, and the caregivers need to ensure they still have activities to engage in when this time comes.
When a person utilizes the short-term care option, the change of venue benefits them. Stepping away from the caregiving role and going somewhere new allows the caregiver to get a different perspective of the situation. In addition, this change may allow them to clear their head and brainstorm solutions to problems they are experiencing in this role.
A person might hesitate to take this break, as they feel guilty for leaving their charge. However, the break gives them the opportunity to remember they have their own identity. They aren’t bound to the person they care for and can live their life however they choose.
Finally, requesting short-term care for a loved one provides the caregiver with time to socialize. They remember they are not alone and have friends and family they can turn to for support. This socialization offers a time for sharing a meal or experience, or the person might simply wish to sit with someone and talk.
Choosing a Care Provider
When the time comes to choose a care provider, speak with the loved one. The person requiring care needs to know what is going on and who will be with them when you cannot. Allow this person input into the amount of time you will remain away from them and who will take over these duties. The person may not like that you are taking this break, but don’t give them an option. Explain the benefits of your time apart and how this break will allow you to do a better job when the break is over.
Assess the individual’s needs as well as your own. What level of care do they require? Are specific caregiver skills needed to care for the person?
Establish a schedule, one that includes breaks for the caregiver. Make plans for that time and ensure the plans cannot easily change. This makes it easier to step away for a break when the caregiver knows they will inconvenience someone else if they change the plans at the last minute.
Set up a space in the home for breaks. A person shouldn’t feel they need to leave the home when many things they may want to use remain in the home. For instance, a person might want to engage in a hobby and all supplies are in the home. Taking advantage of having an alternate caregiver present doesn’t mean the primary caregiver must leave. They just need to step away from their duties for a while.
Tips for Keeping Your Sanity
Understand your role as a caregiver. The National Family Caregivers Association conducted a survey that found family caregivers struggle to distinguish between their role as a caregiver and their other role within the family. The association found that when a person shifts their attitude and separates the two roles, they see the situation in a new light.
Never bottle emotions. Doing so can harm the health and psyche. Talk with friends and family about frustrations and reach out to others in similar situations for support. A professional counselor or caregiver support group becomes of great help as well.
Say no at times. One person cannot do it all, but many people try. Don’t feel as if an explanation needs to be given for the refusal either. Each person knows what they can and cannot handle and should avoid taking on more than they feel comfortable saying yes to.
Serving as a caregiver comes with many benefits and drawbacks. Take advantage of all resources available to you, including respite care. Stay positive at all times. Taking breaks will help you do so, so you can return to caregiving and the rewards that come with it.
About Chelsea Senior Living:
Chelsea Senior Living strives to prove a safe, secure, and comfortable home for individuals needing help with daily living activities. They provide this assistance in a respectful and dignified atmosphere. The integrated care and personalized support ensure residents achieve a higher quality of life.