Respite care is defined as the short or temporary institutional care of a dependent or disabled person to provide relief, or respite, to the caregiver. This caregiver is most often a family member or spouse of the dependent person and is usually providing unpaid care.
There are an estimated 50 million caregivers in the United States today, and that number is on the rise. Caregivers are often at risk of “burnout”, which can lead to negative implications on their own health. Some of the most common signs of caregiver burnout include stress, irritability, depression, lack of appetite, anxiety, having trouble sleeping, social withdrawal, and the inability to relax.
It’s important for caregivers to separate their caregiving duties from the responsibilities they have in their own lives. Finding a balance between the two can be difficult, but caregivers need to recognize that seeking respite care services for their loved one is nothing to feel guilty over. Caregivers need and deserve a break from caregiving to ensure they are paying attention to their own needs.
Seeking respite care allows caregivers a chance to maintain their own lives; to run errands and do housework or attend support groups with other caregivers. Taking time away from the demands of caregiving will allow them the opportunity to become refreshed and energized, which will in turn make them a more effective caregiver.
Respite care services are often available through community agencies, home health care companies, and senior assisted living communities. It’s important to find the right facility for your loved one, not only for your peace of mind but for their safety, too. Visit some facilities and get referrals to help identify the best place for your loved one. Don’t wait until you’ve reached a crisis stage.
Consider your loved one’s needs and how much time is needed away from the home when researching respite care services. Are you planning a trip or need a break longer than just a few days? Does your loved one require assistance with activities of daily living, like dressing, bathing and eating? Does your loved one have dementia? Make sure the facility you choose is skilled in providing the type of care your loved one requires.
Being a caregiver can be a demanding, yet fulfilling and rewarding job. Seeking respite care is an essential part of the caregiving process; it is vital for the well-being of both the caregiver and the dependent loved one.