By Thomas Bjørkan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Respite Care Is Important
Being the primary caregiver for a loved one entails great levels of stress and risks burnout. As a caregiver, you are so focused on your loved one that you tend to lose focus on yourself and often put aside your own needs.
This is why respite care is essential for caregivers. There are already an estimated 50 million caregivers in the country today. As the number continues to rise we can expect a corresponding rise in stress, isolation, depression, and physical ailments. Caregivers need to recognize that they need a break sometimes to pay attention to themselves and take care of their own needs. Taking some time away should also make them better caregivers in the long run.
Guilt is often associated with the thought of seeking out respite care for our loved ones. According to a recent survey by the National Family Caregivers Association, it’s difficult for spouses to acknowledge their role as caregiver is different and separate from their role as spouse. They need to accept that caregiving is a distinct part of their lives and is often to large a task for just one person to handle.
Vince Alongi; creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Finding Relief in Respite Care
There are numerous benefits from respite care for the caregiver. Time away from caregiving allows that person to recharge their batteries and face the task at hand refreshed and renewed. As a result (s)he can be a more effective caregiver. Caregivers deserve time for themselves to engage in activities that they enjoy like reading, walking, cooking, catching a game, or whatever hobbies make them happy. It’s also important for them to maintain their social relationships with friends and families to ward off isolation and depression.
Respite care also allows the caregiver to maintain their own lives; to run errands, see their own doctors, and possibly attend support groups with other caregivers. Caregivers need to avoid losing their sense of identity.
Jose Loya; creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
One can find that relief through respite care is as simple as accepting offers of help from families and friends. People like to help. You can create an area in the house that is just for you such as a reading room or study. Maybe allow yourself the time to take a relaxing bubble bath. Designate a time every day that it is just for you. Consider using your loved one’s nap time or just after they have first gone to bed for the night.
Do not consider respite care as a luxury. It is necessary for the well-being of the caregiver and the loved one who requires attention.