Published: Feb 24, 2015
Despite its rewards, serving as a senior’s primary caregiver can be demanding and stressful. Many others are in the same situation. An estimated 44 million Americans — accounting for 21 percent of all U.S. households — regularly care for an elderly relative or friend. Family and friends provide an estimated 80 percent of senior care.
There are many resources available to you. In the interest of your overall health — and that of your family and the person you are caring for — don’t approach caregiving responsibilities as if you are alone.
No matter how much you love the person you are caring for, you need regular breaks from caregiving. Nonstop caregiving will drain your energy and take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health.
If you will not do it for yourself, please consider that respite care also benefits the person you are caring for. After a break, you will return refreshed and more effective.
A respite could be just a day away with friends, an afternoon of personal errands or an exercise break. Or it could be a vacation away from it all.
You can find relief from numerous sources:
Often, family and friends want to help. They just do not know how. As a caregiver, you can make it easy on them — and yourself — by always having a list of assignments ready, like preparing meals, picking up a few things at the grocery, going on a walk with the senior or staying with him from time-to-time.
Besides scheduling regular respites, we recommend you practice the following to relieve stress and maintain optimal health:
You will find a wealth of online resources to provide caregiving support and advice. Here are a few examples:
Before planning respite care, be sure to talk with your loved one about it, explaining the up side for everyone. To help your loved one accept the idea, be sure to involve him or her in making the arrangements.
Respite care helps the primary caregiver keep her life in balance and ends up benefiting the caregiver, the loved one she’s caring for and her family.