The Value of Respite Care for Family Caregivers and Seniors
Taking care of an elderly parent can be fulfilling. It offers the opportunity to give back and demonstrate gratitude for all the sacrifices made in your growing years. The experience can strengthen the bond between adult child and parent and boost quality of life.
Nevertheless, caregiving can be physically and emotionally demanding, particularly day after day with no breaks or help from others. And this can harm the health and well-being of the caregiver and the cared for.
Respite care--provided by a professional caregiver or relative or friend--offers primary caregivers temporary relief from caregiving responsibilities, a chance to rest and recharge. Respite care can be scheduled for just a few hours to give you a chance to get out of the house to take care of other responsibilities like shopping, or to go out for lunch or golf with a friend. Or you can schedule respite care for longer periods, to go on vacation, for instance.
As a family caregiver you may feel a twinge of guilt wanting to get away. However, scheduled, periodic respite care benefits not just you. It can be a relief and a welcome change of pace for your loved one as well. Getting to spend time with someone else--not that there's anything wrong with you--can be a treat.
Without breaks, caregiving can bring on stress, resentment and depression. And you will likely pass on those feelings to the person you are caring for--no matter how much you try not to.
Alternative settings for respite care may include a nursing home or adult day care center. Or you and your loved one may prefer the comfort of the familiar, arranging for other family members, friends or a professional caregiver to fill in for you in your loved one's home.
For the benefit of your loved one, do not make respite care a surprise. Talk with your loved one in advance and involve him or her in the planning.
A few of the many benefits of respite care include:
- Helps caregivers relax and renew their energy
- Gives families needed time to pursue favorite activities and avoid isolation
- Prevents stresses that could lead to negative consequences such as ill health and divorce
- Offers the person being cared for opportunities for socialization with others