While taking care of a loved one can be rewarding, it can also be physically and emotionally draining for the caregiver. According to AARP*, one in five caregivers in the U.S. report a high level of physical strain resulting from caregiving (19%), while two in five consider their caregiving situation to be emotionally stressful (38%). Every caregiver needs help from someone who will tend to your loved one, so you can take care of yourself for at least a few hours a week. Respite care from friends or professionals will allow you to take a break, and that’s good for both you and your loved one. As you begin thinking about respite it’s important to consider common feelings:
1. You may be concerned that a temporary caregiver will not do a good job.
2. You may feel unneeded if a temporary caregiver does an excellent job.
3. Facing an emotional void when the role of caregiver is removed
4. You may believe that you should be able to “do it all” and feel guilt
5. You may be concerned about how to pay for services Create a plan to give yourself a caregiving break.
Respite care can be provided in home — by a friend, other family member, volunteer or paid service offering options for visiting companions, hourly in-home respite care, adult day care and overnight. Or it can also be provided in a care setting, such as adult day care. What do you need? What does your loved one need? Who can pinch-hit? Tap into family and explain the need for regular and as-needed time away from caring for the loved one you share. It’s ok to ask for help. Or research paid options. There are numerous organizations with respite care offerings, start your search with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging where you’ll find local agencies that can connect you with options for no- or low-cost respite programs in your area. Make a plan, create a schedule, and take time out to take care of you.
*Source: AARP Public Policy Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving