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Respite Care - An Important Resource for Family Caregivers

Jul 31, 2018 by Larry Morgan

Being a caregiver, albeit rewarding, is no easy job.

Informal (or family) caregivers especially are overworked and undercompensated for what they do. Whereas formal, employed caregivers typically receive a fair wage and benefits, a family caregiver is taking time out of their own professional and personal lives to care for an aging relative. Because of this, family caregivers are more likely to get burned out from their duties.

An Important, but Underused Resource for Caregivers

It’s therefore important to use any and all support available to you to keep you at your best self so that you can provide high quality of care to your senior loved one.

One form of support for family caregivers is respite care.

This form of care is either emergency or planned temporary care for a senior, provided by someone other than the family caregiver.

Why would I need respite care/what could I use it for?

When was the last time you took care of your personal needs?

It can be easy to prioritize your loved one’s needs and put yours entirely on the back burner, but this is actually more dangerous than most people realize.

How can you expect to provide quality care to someone else if you’re not taking care of yourself along the way? Balance is needed, and while it may feel selfish to take an honest break from your caregiving duties now and then, you will need it to recharge your batteries.

The great thing about this resource is that you can use it for almost anything. For example:

  • You going to a doctor’s/other appointment for yourself
  • Catching up on cleaning/chores/errands
  • Going grocery shopping for the week
  • Going out to dinner and a movie with your friends
  • Date night with your spouse
  • A couple-day-long vacation
  • A general break and time to relax in the house without worrying about caregiving – read a book, take a hot bath, take a nap, etc.

Respite care is a great resource to use in case of emergencies, too – for example, if you fall ill or get injured, or you need to travel out of town unexpectedly, and so forth.

How can I find respite care?

You’d be surprised at the various ways you can find respite care.

For starters, see if another relative can step in to help. This is an especially great idea if you only need a break for a few hours, as it will save you money and make your senior feel more comfortable being taken care of by someone familiar.

Next, check into a reputable senior care agency like Comfort Keepers of Victoria or a senior center. With Comfort Keepers, a caregiver can come care for your senior – even overnight, if needed – to ensure their wellbeing, and so they won’t have to leave the house. Some senior centers also have “adult day care centers,” which is exactly as it sounds – your senior can go for a few hours during the day to play games, make crafts, watch movies, have snacks/lunch, and socialize with other seniors. Comfort Keepers also offers an at home senior sitter service so your senior does not have to go to a strange place.

For longer breaks, consider a nursing home or assisted living facility’s respite program. A senior can move into a room for a few days, typically up to a week (or even longer, if needed) to be completely cared for by staff there.

No, This is Not Selfish

Know that seeking this form of support does not make you a selfish person. Just as a formal caregiver can take a vacation from their job and have regular days off, you will need breaks, too.

You’re also working a lot more than formal caregivers, with very little breaks and no pay. You can’t be Superman/Wonder Woman all the time – even superheroes need breaks!

Preventing caregiver burnout is especially important. You need a mental and physical break from your duties now and then to recoup so that you can feel refreshed and continue caring for your senior as they need. Never feel embarrassed or ashamed by that.

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