According to a 2020 report, 53 million Americans provide unpaid caregiving support to adult family members and loved ones. Of those who are caregivers, many are experiencing caregiver burnout, a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. That is why respite care is so important for both seniors and caretakers.
But what is respite care? In a nutshell, respite care shares the responsibility of caregiving and offers temporary relief for caregivers. Respite care can provide the caregiver with rest, offer an opportunity to run errands or catch up on housework, take a vacation, or engage in other forms of self-care. Many types of respite care exist to suit an array of needs and fall into two categories: in-home respite and out-of-home respite.
In-home respite services involve a trained individual, either a professional or a volunteer, coming into your home to take over any number of caregiving responsibilities, such as:
- Help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and using the bathroom
- Assistance with meal prep, shopping, cleaning, etc.
- Companionship for your older loved one
- Skilled nursing care for those with more complex daily medical needs
Out-of-home respite involves bringing your loved one to another location for care and can range from a few hours during the day to several days or weeks overnight:
- Adult day centers, which are open on weekdays and offer social programming for seniors, often provide meals and snacks as well
- Residential living respite—such as nursing homes, hospitals, personal care homes or group homes—in which your loved one essentially moves in for a length of time and can enjoy the amenities to which all other residents have access
Why is Respite Care So Important?
For many reasons, caregivers often hesitate to take advantage of respite services for their aging loved ones:
- Guilt over admitting that caring for someone they love is tiring
- Worry that someone else won’t take good enough care of their loved one
- Concern that what they do daily is just too complicated to explain to someone else stepping in to take over
However, overcoming these barriers to seeking respite care is vitally important—not just for the caregiver but also for the senior receiving care.
Spending every waking hour with dependent aging loved one can end up straining your relationship rather than strengthening it; working without a break can lead to feelings of resentment and irritability. Additionally, caregivers who struggle to accept help often neglect their health and well-being. In a report by the CDC highlighting caregiver health:
- 3% of caregivers aged 45+ reported having had a routine checkup in the past year
- Almost 40% of caregivers reported getting inadequate sleep, which puts into motion a slew of other factors negatively affecting health, including weight gain, depression, increased stress, and anxiety
- Over half of the caregivers interviewed felt that when their health suffered, the quality of the care they provide suffered as well
If you are struggling with whether respite care is right for you and the senior in your life, focus on the following to reframe the decision in a more positive and healthy light:
- Understand that seeking respite care does not diminish your ability as a caregiver; no one can care for your loved one like you can, but there are excellent alternatives out there that come close
- Needing a break is not only normal; it is essential for maintaining mental and physical health and establishing your identity as an individual; this will trickle down to the caring relationship.
- Utilizing respite care invites a new perspective on your loved one’s health and overall well-being, which may recognize things you have inadvertently overlooked while in the trenches of care.
Caring for an older loved one is a full-time job in and of itself and can feel overwhelming, even more so when there is seemingly no end in sight. If you are a caregiver, don’t wait until exhaustion sets in. Plan to give yourself a break with respite care before you think you need it.
Here at The Hickman, we are proud to offer a warm and inviting atmosphere for short-term respite, one in which your loved one will enjoy a variety of amenities – including personal care, meals and recreational programming – all under the care of trained professionals. Schedule your tour today and see why “when you’re here, you’re home.”