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Importance of Respite Relief for Family Caregivers

Over time, without relief and assistance, caregiving can take a mental and physical toll on family caregivers.

Published: Jul 11, 2014

Importance of Respite Relief for Family Caregivers

Taking care of an elderly parent offers many benefits ... strengthening the parent-child bond, bringing fulfillment and happiness, boosting quality of life.

But regardless of these advantages and the love a family caregiver has for the recipient of their attention, caregiving can be emotionally and physically draining. This is especially true when added to other responsibilities at work and home.

Caregiving in the United States, released in 2004 by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, reports that 44 million Americans--21 percent of all U.S. households--provide care for an adult family member or friend.

MetLife reported in a study that about 60 percent of employed caregivers have had to make some work-related adjustments to accommodate caregiving. This results in an estimated $33 billion loss in productivity.

Over time, without relief and assistance, caregiving can take a mental and physical toll on family caregivers. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that 40 to 70 percent of caregivers show clinically significant symptoms of depression. The Center on Aging Society adds that 1 in 10 family caregivers report that their responsibilities have caused their physical health to worsen.

Stephen McConnell, senior vice president of advocacy and public policy for the Alzheimer's Association, testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging that 1 in 8 Alzheimer caregivers becomes ill or injured in the course of caregiving.

Family caregivers may feel guilty trying to find relief from the responsibilities of caregiving. But planned, periodic respites can benefit both caregiver and the cared for. Without breaks, caregivers can become stressed, resentful and even depressed. With a respite, they return to the task refreshed, re-energized and relaxed.

Whether you're just planning a day with friends or taking care of personal errands--or you want to get away on vacation--you have a variety of respite care options available.

These include off-site alternatives, such as a nursing home or adult day care center.

Or you and your loved one may feel more comfortable with the familiar--that is, arranging for other family members or friends to fill in for you in your loved one's home. This is a common request for support that Comfort Keepers® offices across the US regularly support.

You could also make arrangements to get relief from a professional in-home senior care provider, which can schedule specially-trained caregivers in your loved one's home for any amount of time needed during your respite.

Before planning respite care, be sure to talk with your loved one about it, so that he or she understands the benefit for both of you. Explain that you will be better able to provide the necessary care if you have occasional time to yourself. To help your loved one accept the idea, involve him or her in making the respite care arrangements.


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