How do you spell relief? R-E-S-P-I-T-E
Here's the first rule in caregiving: Respite required. No one should try to tackle the role as caregiver without scheduling breaks. Going it alone 24-7 is not good for you, the person you're caring for, or the rest of your family.
You Have to Have It
Caring for your aging parent or loved one can be a wonderful experience. It can give your life new meaning, and surprise you with moments of connection and joy. But caregiving can also be extremely difficult, exhausting, and isolating. Days can blend into weeks, which can blend into months. Without setting boundaries and carving out time for yourself, you can begin to blend into your role as caregiver—and lose your sense of self.
Time to Unwind
In order to be an effective caregiver, you must take regular breaks. And breaking away to do the banking or shopping doesn't count as respite. We're talking serious Me Time. What helps you recharge? Digging your shovel into the garden or digging your toes into the sand? Browsing through a bookstore or basking in a bubble bath? Playing soccer or playing the piano? Maybe it's hanging out in a hammock or hang gliding off a cliff. You get the idea. Respite is about you. And it's non-negotiable.
Respite Services Available
- In Home. Another caregiver will come into your home to relieve you. This can be a private or agency homecare aid, home health care worker or volunteer, depending on the level of care needed and the funds available.
- On Location. Adult day services centers and adult day health care centers provide care for elders. This can be regularly scheduled or on a substitute basis.
- Overnight. Many long-term care homes provide temporary respite care so caregivers can take a longer break, such as a vacation. Home health care workers or homecare aids are also available to stay at your home or your parents' home while you're away.
No More Ifs, Ands or Buts
Many family caregivers have apprehensions about arranging for respite care. They're afraid something might go wrong while they're away. They may be afraid that the substitute caregiver will do a bad job - or even that the caregiver might do a better job. Or the family caregiver just feels guilty for any number of reasons. If you can't let go, talk to a friend or a therapist about your feelings. Join our forum or ask an expert. Respite care is not a selfish luxury. It is absolutely necessary and central to your own mental and physical health.