You may be burnt out. Stressed out. Like many Americans, you may be taking care of your Mom, Dad, or other loved ones. On top of that, you may also have a job and an immediate family of your own. There is not enough hours in a day – definitely not enough hours to take care of yourself.
You want to scream: can’t I get a break?
As a matter of fact, you can and you need one.
What The Numbers Say
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, you are not alone. In fact, more than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. The value of this unpaid care is estimated at $306 billion annually.
As a result, caregivers are often in poor health themselves. Numerous studies have shown the impact on a caregiver’s emotional, mental and physical health, particularly if the care they are providing is long-term. Like 70% of the caregiving population, you may suffer from depression, fatigue or exhaustion. The stress can build up, leaving you to become a chronic worry wart, feeling like there is no end in sight. Your neglect your own health, skipping dental checkups, mammograms and other preventative treatments. And getting your own hair done? A long ago dream!
Take Care of Yourself
Making yourself a priority is not easy. You need to tap other family and friends to give you a break. If your caregiving stint is going to be short-term and you are employed, check out the Family Leave and Medical Act which requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for employees who need time off to care for a seriously ill family member.
If you can’t afford to take time off, you may consider hiring a reputable healthcare agency like FirstLight Home Care for respite care. Respite care provides short-term, temporary relief to those who are caring for family members. You can schedule a couple of hours a week, a month, or even a whole week off if you want to schedule a vacation! Respite care can provided a much needed break for you the caregiver and the person you are caring for as well.
Taking advantage of respite care before you become exhausted, overwhelmed or isolated is ideal. Just knowing that someone you trust can provide regular relief can be a lifesaver!
Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and wellbeing. An outcome based evaluation pilot study showed that respite may also reduce the likelihood of divorce and help sustain marriages.
And the great part of respite care with FirstLight is that your loved ones don’t have to leave their home where they are the most comfortable. FirstLight caregivers come into your home and provide a variety of services to your loved one, focusing on whatever their needs may be.
It is important not to feel guilty for needing a break. If you become overwhelmed, you can begin to resent the role you are undertaking. Keep an online calendar so you can share the task of caregiving and schedule your own appointments in advance.
When you devote so much love and energy to caregiving, it may be difficult to entrust your family member’s care to strangers. Our caregivers are carefully screened, and ideally matched to your family’s needs and lifestyle.
Taking care of yourself makes you a more effective caregiver and is better for everybody in the long run!