4 min read
What is respite care?
If you're dealing with family caregiver burnout, respite care might help
If you’re running on empty and struggling to feel motivated to provide care for your older loved one, you’re likely experiencing caregiver burnout. It’s a sign that you might be taking on too much. Burnout is a very common experience for those in a family caregiving role, especially as care needs become more complex.
What can help?
It might be time for someone else to take some weight off your shoulders, so that you can be there for your loved one the way you want to be. There’s a term for this kind of care, which supplements care provided by a family member. It’s called respite care.
What is respite care?
Respite care provides relief for family caregivers. It’s usually part-time and takes place where the care recipient resides. Just as essential as a lunch break or PTO from work, respite care helps keep your relationship to family caregiving more balanced by giving you time to rest, take care of yourself, and process what may be a difficult emotional time for you and your family.
When other family members or other support networks aren’t available to help out with your loved one, in-home caregivers can share companionship, run errands, help around the home, and provide non medical assistance with Activities of Daily Living (commonly known as ADLs), such as bathing, transferring, toileting, meal preparation, and more.
While respite care can be provided by anyone in your loved one’s family or community, there are significant benefits to hiring a professional caregiver for at least some portion of the respite care you need:
Control over scheduling care when you need it
Accountability for quality of care and task completion
Professional experience with your loved one’s care needs
There’s no perfect recipe for care, but respite is an essential ingredient for keeping yourself healthy and making sure your loved one gets the support they need.
How can you tell if you need respite care?
Caring for a loved one is something that many of us undertake willingly. We want our parent (or spouse or sibling or in-laws) to be comfortable, close to family or in their own homes, living their lives to the fullest as long as possible.
The sacrifices that come with caregiving—lack of sleep, dueling priorities, stress on relationships, tough financial decisions, physical strain, isolation, and emotional distress—feel worth it, knowing that our loved ones are getting the support they need.
Yet while we try our best to provide support, there may come a point where we don’t have enough time or resources to devote to caregiving and still maintain our own lives. The stress of family caregiving can become overwhelming, frustrating, and expensive, causing caregiver burnout. Like other kinds of burnout, this can lead to physical and mental symptoms that can be harmful to your health over time.
Hiring an in-home caregiver can help relieve some of the stress of full-time caregiving by giving your time back to you, so that you can stay healthy and take care of the important things in your life.
Symptoms of family caregiver burnout
If you find yourself spending more and more time caring for your loved one, taking on additional responsibilities, and shouldering emotional burdens on behalf of your family, you might be at risk of burnout. Increasing care duties that don’t allow you to engage with your usual outlets, such as going out with friends, exercising, or engaging with your hobbies and interests, can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and unhealthy coping habits.
While identifying signs that you might be dealing with burnout, it’s important to remind yourself that you are doing your best and always consult your doctor if you have concerns. Here are a few symptoms to monitor:
Feeling isolated or anxious
Loss of interest in activities
Inability to concentrate affecting work/other obligations
Unusual weight gain or loss
Headaches and body aches
Managing caregiver stress
Caregiving is a journey, and while there are no easy shortcuts, we’ve put together a few ideas to help relieve some of the stress that can contribute to burnout. Many of us only have time or energy to do one thing a day to help relieve stress—do what works for you.
Ask family members, friends, or neighbors for help with specific tasks
Set aside time for yourself, even if it’s only a few minutes, when you don’t need to “be” or “do” anything
Boost your energy with healthy snacks and plenty of water
Incorporate movement in your day—a short walk to the mailbox, 5 minutes of stretching in between tasks, doing yoga videos with your kids or spouse
Reach out to a friend to say hello or share a story from your day
Securing respite care will help ease the daily stresses of caregiving, giving you time to care for yourself and other areas of your life.
If you have any questions about respite care, please don’t hesitate to call our Care Experts, at 415-506-9776.
Join us today!