By: Linda Burhans
IF YOU ARE the primary caregiver for an aging loved one, there is a good chance you may be experiencing some form of stress. It’s natural for caregivers to become so involved in taking care of someone else that they tend to allow their own needs to get put aside or sometimes totally forgotten.
According to the American Alzheimer’s Foundation, 60 percent of family caregivers die before the person they are caring for. Caregivers have chronic conditions twice the rate of others and 91 percent suffer from depression.
Nearly three quarters (72%) of family caregivers report not going to the doctor as often as they should and 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves. 63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits than non-caregivers.
That is why respite care is so important for caregivers. As the number of caregivers increases, so does the number of people suffering from exhaustion, stress, isolation, depression. Physical ailments are also on the rise. This is no coincidence. Caregivers need to recognize that they deserve a break from their responsibilities from time to time to take care of themselves, too. Also, taking some time away from your caregiving duties will make you a better caregiver in the long run.
The benefits of respite care are numerous for caregivers. Taking time away from care giving responsibilities will leave a caregiver refreshed and renewed, allowing them the opportunity to re-energize and be a better caregiver. Caregivers deserve time for activities they enjoy, whether it be reading, dancing, taking a walk, and so on. It’s also important for caregivers to maintain social relationships with friends and other family members to avoid isolation and depression.
Respite care will also allow the caregiver to maintain their own lives; to run errands, see their own doctors, and possibly attend support groups with other caregivers.
Respite care services are available through community agencies and home health care companies.
Another way to find relief through respite care can be as simple as accepting offers of help from friends or family members
Remember that respite care should not be considered a luxury, but a necessity for the well-being of the both the caregiver and their loved one.