Why is Respite Care Important?
Respite care is a term that is often misunderstood. Many people associate it with being selfish, frivolous or unnecessary. It is extremely undervalued by those who don’t really understand it, and for those who do understand and use it, it is something they can’t live without. In order to answer the question, Why is respite care important, let’s first define it.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is a service that supports family caregivers by providing temporary care for a loved one that requires assistance. It relieves the family caregiver of his or her duties so that he or she can either rest and recharge or be assisted with scheduling conflicts.
Respite care is temporary care, which can be anything from an hour to a couple weeks. Respite care can be provided for a one-time occasion or on a regular basis as caregiving support. Typically, respite care is provided for those with chronic illnesses, terminal diseases, disabilities, fragile children or aging loved one.
Why is Respite Care Important?
Studies reveal that people who act as caregivers for family members are at a higher risk for stress-related health conditions such as depression and chronic disease. According to CaringToday.com, “Family caregivers suffer a chronic condition at more than twice the rate as non-caregivers” and “Stress from providing care can take as much as ten years off a family caregiver’s life.”
Respite care should not be considered a luxury, but should instead be an important component of a caregiving program.Regularly scheduled respites are recommended so that you aren’t waiting until you are on the verge of burnout to get help. It benefits not only the caregiver but also the patient.
Respite Care Benefits for the Caregiver:
- Allows caregivers to rest and rejuvenate so they can return to their caregiving duties refreshed and ready to give their best
- Reduces the stress associated with caregiving
- Boosts the immune system by giving the body, mind and spirit of the caregiver a much needed break
- Improves the caregiver’s level of patience
- Restores the caregiver’s energy
- Provides the caregiver with balance in their life so that they can attend to their responsibilities that aren’t related to caregiving
- Removes the issues of social isolation and depression that can set in for a caregiver
- Allows the caregiver to engage in his or her own live apart from their loved one so that they can care for their own family, maintain friendships and pursue their career
- Provides opportunities for vacations, outings, etc.
- Gives the caregiver the opportunity to view the situation from a distance to gain a new perspective
- Improves the caregiver’s ability to cope with the daily responsibilities of caregiving
- Provides growth and development opportunities
- Helps keep the family unit in tact, reducing the stress that a caregiving situation can put on a whole family
- Prevents costly out-of-home placements
Respite Care Benefits for the Patient:
- Provides more variety and relationships for the patient
- Reduces feelings of social isolation and depression
- Provides opportunities for growth and development
- Ensures the patient will not be neglected at times when a family caregiver can’t be there, and is instead getting all of their needs met
- It’s a breath of fresh air for everyone, including the patient
- At home respite care allows the patient to remain in their home even when the caregiver cannot be there
- Respite care through a home care agency helps patients with the transition into respite care. For example, a caregiver can first be assigned to assist with household chores, and then over time, as the patient gets to know and trust the caregiver, he or she can assist with companion care and more.
Another answer to the question, why is respite care important, is that it prevents caregiver burnout. It is important to remember that as a caregiver, if you push yourself too hard and stretch yourself too thin, you will set yourself up for an illness that could leave you unable to care for your loved one, making life more difficult for you and the patient. It is always best to take care of yourself and prevent burnout by using respite care services along the way. That way, you can stay in the best health possible to continue providing care.
What Does Caregiver Burnout Look Like?
If you aren’t caring for yourself and taking the time you need to do pleasurable things and maintain your own life responsibilities, burnout is only around the corner. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you could be on the verge of burnout:
- Social withdrawal
- Sleep issues
- Inability to focus
- Inability to relax
- Lack of appetite
Burnout doesn’t serve anyone. It drains your physical, mental and emotional energy and can lead to resentment and care that is not up to par.
Respite care is not something a caregiver should ever feel guilty about. On the contrary, it means that you are taking responsibility to do what you need to do so that you can be a better caregiver for your loved one.
How to Move Forward With Respite Care
Now that we’ve answered the question, why is respite care important, you might be wondering how you can make it a reality in your situation. Here are the top obstacles family caregivers face and how to move through them:
Tips for Paying for Respite Care:
Paying for respite care is no different than paying for any other type of home care. We’ve provided in depth information about paying for home care in the following article: Home Care Affordability.
How to Explain Respite Care Arrangements to the Patient:
The thought of explaining that you are making respite care arrangements to your loved one might be causing you stress, but there are solutions. Here are some tips for how to explain respite care arrangements to the patient:
- Discuss the respite arrangements in a positive light, highlighting the benefits your loved one will receive.
- Don’t discuss respite care arrangements too far in advance. Sometimes that can add to the stress when your loved one anticipates it in their mind for a long period of time.
- Present the arrangements in a confident, calm, matter-of-fact way that reassures your loved one that there is nothing to worry about.
- Reassure your loved one that you are looking forward to hearing about his or her respite experience when you return.
- Respite care is important and it should not be overlooked as a key component in any care plan. Don’t wait till you’re on the verge of burnout. Make arrangements now so that you can enjoy your time with your loved one instead of resenting it.