Caring for a loved one can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be enormously challenging. After all, you’re wearing a lot of hats: daughter or son, assistant, shopper, housekeeper, cook and more. It’s why more than one-third of family caregivers say their job is highly stressful emotionally, according to AARP. It’s also where respite care can help.
Respite Care, Defined
Respite care is simply providing support for a family caregiver for a short-term period of time. The purpose is to give you a break so that you can get some time to yourself and take care of your own personal needs. It can come from many places. For instance, other family members and friends can serve as a source of respite care, as can volunteer groups, faith-based organizations, government agencies and professional caregivers. Respite care can take place whether your loved one is at home or if they reside in a nursing home or long-term care setting.
Ways Respite Care can Help
Respite care can help both you and your loved one in a range of ways. For you, it can provide the chance to relax or spend time with other family and friends. You’ll also have the freedom and flexibility to take care of tasks like running errands or going to that doctors appointment you’ve been putting off. It can provide support and offer peace of mind when you have a trusted caregiver spending time with your loved one.
For your loved one, it can give them an opportunity to meet and interact with others, keeping them engaged while still in a safe and supportive environment. If you’re able to find a caregiver with a similar interest or hobby, they can participate in it together, improving your loved one’s quality of life in the process.
Finding the Right Support
To get the most from respite care, you have to find the right source. When you’re looking, take into account a few factors, including:
- Your needs. Do you need respite care a few hours a day, one day each week, or simply as-needed when you require a break? Get specific and make a list of the number of hours or days of the week when you’d like coverage.
- Your loved one’s needs. This includes their physical condition and how much mobility assistance they require. You must also consider the different areas where they need help, whether it’s companionship, meal preparation, laundry, light housekeeping or medication reminders. To find the right match, look for caregivers who can make your loved one feel safe and comfortable while meeting their needs.
- The best source of help. If you’re simply interested in an occasional afternoon off, then make a short list of family and friends you can contact. You should do this ahead of time, before an emergency arises, so you have options to choose from. If, however, you have regular respite care needs or your loved one requires more extensive assistance due to their condition, consider professionals instead.
Dealing with Obstacles to Respite Care
If you’re the primary caregiver and ready for a break, your next step should be to make a plan with your family. Connect with them and schedule a time and place to meet to discuss your loved one’s care. When you get together, approach the conversation carefully and explain the situation so that other family members understand where you are today… how often are you providing care, what kinds of activities are you commonly doing, what kind of help does your loved one require. Don’t assume they automatically know your needs or those of your loved one.
Discuss the level of care your loved one regularly requires and ask about ways your family can help. Offer options, such as certain days of the week or shifts, perhaps mornings or afternoons. If a family member is unable to commit time, ask them to contribute money for a professional respite caregiver.
Be flexible and understanding when family members have concerns with tasks such as bathing or dressing and instead opt to hire a professional caregiver for those responsibilities.
While you might have feelings of guilt at first, you truly can’t do it all. Getting help is not a sign of weakness, but a way to support and benefit both you and your loved one.
Hiring Professionals to Deliver Respite Care
Being a caregiver is not only stressful, but taxing on your family dynamic. It can even lead to fractured relationships as burnout and frustration escalate over time. If this is happening to you, there is relief in the form of respite care. You simply have to find the right source.
If you’re interested in professional help, make sure you research each company and ask questions about caregiver training and certification. While it might take some time upfront, you’ll be able to breathe easier when you have the respite care you need.
If you’d like to find out more about respite care, whether you have an elderly or disabled loved one, contact your local FirstLight® Home Care today. Our experienced caregivers are here to help in many ways, from personal and companion care to household assistance, meal preparation and more.