Have you ever met a primary caregiver who could use a break? Or rather, have you ever met one who didn’t need some time away? A respite from day-to-day responsibilities, particularly when caring for an aging parent or disabled spouse, can feel like an unrealistic option for a primary caregiver.
For example, the unique situation of a spousal caregiver requires a system of support that is different from other kinds of caregiving. Spousal caregiving is likely to be more medically intensive, involve more activities of daily living, and more likely to be performed without outside help. This high-intensity caregiving can also have a longer duration than other types of caregiving, often requiring 24/7 care for years – even decades.
As people live longer with chronic illnesses, care duration will increase. Caregiver support is an absolute necessity. Whether the primary caregiver lives at home with their partner or aging parent, their partner or aging parent lives in a facility, or they are a former caregiver due to death or divorce, every caregiver needs a break from the physical and emotional demands of caregiving.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is short-term relief for a primary caregiver through a home caring service or in a healthcare facility. Respite care can be arranged for just an afternoon, a few days, or several weeks. The primary purpose is to allow a caregiver, who is often a spouse, family member, or close friend, to step away from caregiving duties and take some personal time to avoid caregiver stress and burnout.
Types of Respite Care
Home caring service
Whether you choose informal respite care from friends and family or a planned stay in a healthcare facility, it is a great way to take a step back and take a breath. Caregiver burnout is real and having one less task to juggle can make a significant difference in your mental and physical wellbeing.
Why is Respite Care Important?
You can’t pour from an empty cup. We’ve all heard the expression, and some caregivers may even grudgingly admit that it is true. Respite care is all about taking a break from the high-intensity care that an aging loved one requires.
It’s easy to lose track of your own health when taking care of someone else. Taking a respite gives you the opportunity to catch up with friends, enjoy hobbies, and focus on your own health needs through doctor appointments, exercise, or meditation. Respite care is a gift the primary caregiver gives themselves and the person they are caring for by allowing themselves a much-needed rest.
When to Schedule Respite Care
Working outside home
Planned medical procedure
Signs of burnout
Prolonged caregiving takes a toll on physical and mental health. There is no set timeline on how soon you will feel burned out or how quickly you can recover. Be aware of symptoms such as changes in appetite, weight loss, disturbed sleep patterns, and getting sick more often – and take action with respite care.
I Want to Get Started...But I Have Concerns.
Being a primary caregiver for a spouse or aging parent is a constant reminder that roles have changed. A spouse and partner become caregiver and patient, facing the loss of an intimate relationship and companionship. An adult child is placed in the parent role, making decisions and directing care. There are few areas of life that are left untouched by the caregiver/patient role when chronic illness enters a relationship.
All these changes may have you questioning what is best in your situation. What is your role in your relationship? If you are the caregiver and you are now handing that role to someone else, where does that leave you?
It’s normal to have concerns about leaving your loved one in someone else’s care. However, these concerns can be addressed and overcome, allowing you to meet your own needs and become a better caregiver. Consider the options in respite care available to you and allow yourself time to do a little research.
3 Tips to Help Alleviate Concerns
- Ask your doctor, friends, and other professionals for recommendations.
- Arrange for a short-term respite first and increase time as you build trust.
- Use a licensed agency for home caring services to ensure the necessary credentials.
Who Pays for Respite Care?
The cost of respite care depends on the type of care you choose. For example, informal respite care with friends and family is normally a free or low-cost way to arrange for a break. Other types of respite care, such as through an adult daycare or healthcare facility, might be paid for by long-term care insurance or VA Aid & Attendance.
Private Duty Home Care is an affordable option that can be easily customized for your needs and budget. Home caring services can be arranged relatively quickly. Also, they are flexible enough to increase hours as you become more comfortable with time away. You can find an agency that will become your go-to call when you need a little time away.
What Does Respite Care Include?
If your main concern is that your spouse or aging parent won’t accept personal care from a respite caregiver, don’t worry. You can start with non-caregiving tasks. As your loved one becomes familiar with the caregiver, you can add personal care. You may even find that your loved one accepts help from another person on the first visit – and that’s okay.
There are so many things respite care can do while you take even a few hours away. From assistance with household tasks (what a treat for you!) to companionship for your loved one, respite care comes in many different forms.
A private duty home care agency offers many creative ways to spend time with your loved one while you take a much-needed break. Feeling comfortable with your time away is the top priority. So, start slow and ease into longer breaks as you build trust with the caregiver. You will see that both you and your loved one benefit from the time you spend focusing on your own mental and physical health.
Where Do I Find Respite Care?
When you are ready to give yourself a little time away, ask friends, family, and trusted professionals for recommendations for respite care. Do you know any friends who have used respite services before? What was their experience and how can they help you move forward?
Private home caring services offer the flexibility you may need as you become more comfortable with putting yourself first – even for a short period of time. A Private Duty Home Care agency is licensed to provide credentialled caregivers with experience and proper background screenings. These extra steps will go a long way in making you feel more comfortable about leaving your loved one.
Experienced caregivers and flexible scheduling are two reasons Private Duty Home Care is a great solution for respite care. Read more about all the ways Private Duty Home Care helps families care for aging loved ones – and gives family caregivers the space to take care of themselves – in the Resources Section of our Blog.