Taking on the responsibility of caring for an aging or ill loved that can no longer take care of themselves one is one that many family members take on without question. They are happy to take care of the person that, in many cases, cared for them and they will do so with complete devotion. But, even the most devoted caregiver can struggle to find a healthy balance between their own life and the duties of care giving. This is where respite care comes in. Respite care is temporary, professional care of a dependent person that provides relief for their usual caregivers.
A Commonwealth Fund study reported that 60 percent of the family caregivers surveyed, ages 19-64, reported “fair or poor” health and one or more chronic conditions or disabilities, compared with only 33 percent of non-caregivers. There are 16 million caregivers, and 9 million of those have health problems of their own.
Taking time off to care for themselves is something caregivers should consider a necessity, not a luxury. And when it’s time to take that break, they can turn to respite care services. While they may be reluctant to take a break, here are some reasons to take advantage of the respite care services offered by local assisted living centers.
Avoid Isolation and Depression
When a loved one needs constant care, it’s tempting for a caregiver to shut out the world and focus on giving them the care and attention they need. But becoming socially isolated from friends can affect more than their social life. Too much social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, despair and eventually depression. This is often a worry in regards to the elderly if they can’t travel or get out on their own, but it is something that can affect caregivers as well. While our loved ones can be great company, it’s important to see out other interactions and nurture friendship to avoid loneliness and depression.
Stay in Good Health
We already mentioned that a large number of caregivers report significant health problems. But, it should be noted that many of those health problems could be avoided if the caregiver to the time and energy to take care of themselves and not just their loved one. Taking the time to exercise, visit healthcare providers, or just get out into the fresh air can have positive effects on our health. Caregivers suffering from illness, chronic pain or other ailments cannot provide the best care possible to their loved ones.
Sometimes, being tired can be worse than being sick. Especially being over tired. And, not getting enough sleep can make our bodies more prone to illness. Nights spent listening to see if your loved one will get out of bed or fall in the night can affect sleep even if it feels like they are getting enough. It may be hard to fall into a deep sleep if you are constantly worried or on guard. Even one night away can reset your clock and leave you feeling awake and alert.
Stay Mentally Focused
Exhaustion and illness can not only affect our bodies but our minds. If you are in charge of distributing medication or tracking the diet of your loved one, you need to be as focused and alert as possible. Letting your mind wander or become clouded can be a dangerous mistake. But if you aren’t getting enough sleep or are feeling overwhelmed, it can happen easily.
Stepping away from the trials of caregiving even for a day or two can offer a whole new outlook on life. If caregivers feel overwhelmed, exhausted or ill it can be difficult to remember why they chose to be a caregiver in the first place. By stepping away or taking a vacation, they can renew their bodies but also refresh their minds and gain a new, positive outlook on the perks and rewards of caring for their loved one.
The opportunity to refresh and renew is good for both the caregiver and the patient and should be taken advantage of. A day away here and there and vacations can help make sure that caregivers are at their peak physical and mental health. Taking advantage of respite care opportunities is a great way to take the time caregivers need to take care of themselves.