Caring for a family member who needs assistance with daily activities is usually a job gladly taken. At first thought, it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult, because it’s not like having a new baby. After all, an adult can tell you their needs and can be left unsupervised for more than 30 seconds. Over time, caregiving begins to wear people down, both physically and mentally. Extra demands on their time mean they have less time to devote to their daily lives, hobbies, or relaxation. There may not be enough money for vacations, dining out, or fun activities. New prescriptions or medical equipment may lead to budget cuts at home, like cable. As these stresses pile on, caregivers become frustrated and may lose their temper with family and friends.
Family caregivers often neglect their own health and grooming maintenance in the rush to get everything done. They are notorious for skipping regular sleep, exercise, and meals. They spend so much time at doctors’ appointments for their charges that the last thing they want to do is make appointments for themselves. This can lead to dangerous health conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol; poor eating, no exercise, and excess stress are the formula for heart attacks. Caregiving and “burning the candle at both ends” have an impact on your mental health too; some estimate that between 46-59% of all caregivers experience clinical depression.
Benefits of Respite Care
Caregivers who end up needing care themselves only make a difficult situation even worse. That’s why it’s vital for them to get regular respite breaks to regroup and refresh themselves. It may be difficult to convince them to take a break; they may say “but I’m the only one who can…” Be firm, but gentle in this case. Explain that it’s important to get out of the house and away from the duties for a couple of hours every week. Point out that it would be good for other people to know how to carry out the caregiving duties, in case of illness. Remind them of favorite activities they could do while they’re out, such as visiting a coffeeshop or bookstore. Even going out with friends for a couple of hours once a week gives them something to look forward to during a difficult day. Don’t push too hard though; it’s important not to isolate them any further.
Never, ever feel guilty about taking respite care if you’re a caregiver. Few people are adequately trained for the situation and those who are do it for a living and then go home. They don’t try to balance it on top of another job. You can’t keep giving and giving care unless you receive some in return. Taking time for your own physical and mental needs ensures your good health, so you don’t wind up needing care yourself.
Whenever you need respite care, you can trust the caring professionals at Assisting Hands. Our highly skilled healthcare professionals can provide any level of respite care necessary so you can take a much needed break for your own doctor visits, go on a vacation, or just visit the bookstore for a few hours. Your loved one will be well cared for and you can have peace of mind.