It happens more often than you’d think – a loved one falls down the stairs and is hospitalized for severe injuries. A mother is diagnosed with cancer. A father receives the news that he has dementia. These things – and more – happen every day to families all over the world, but their regularity doesn’t make it easy. Each and every occurrence means hardship for the injured or the ill and the families who love them, and these hardships often seem more than one can bear.
Family members quickly take on the role of family caregivers – sometimes without knowing it. Soon things that were once simple, such as bathing, eating, and going to doctor’s appointments become a group effort, with one or more family members doing the bulk of the work. Eventually, this caregiving becomes like a second job – the family caregiver may get off work and go straight to their loved one’s home to begin their second shift of caregiving.
Naturally, family members are happy to help their loved ones – that’s what family does for each other, right? But with no end in sight, the job can soon become exhausting. Family caregivers may experience burnout, mental and emotional stress, depression, mood swings, and other negative effects. But when it comes to thinking about taking a break? There’s one emotion that immediately rushes in – guilt. The very thought of taking a break might make a family caregiver feel bad, as if the person they love has become a burden. It’s a heart-breaking, complicated position that family caregivers find themselves in, and they often don’t know where to turn for help.
Fortunately, there is a solution for the family caregiver – one that doesn’t require them putting their loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Family caregivers can request respite services so that they can take a desperately needed break so they can take care of their own needs or run errands. By doing this, family caregivers can avoid feeling guilty while still getting the break and not fall behind in their own lives.
Here are five reasons why requesting respite care enhances not only your life, but your loved one’s as well:
1. You Have Time For Things You Need To Do
You don’t really choose to become a family caregiver – usually, it just happens. With this critical job thrust upon you, certain activities and errands fall by the wayside. How often have you had to turn down going to a work event because your loved one needs care, or have had to postpone a dentist appointment for you because you can’t arrange anyone to take care of your loved one? With respite services, you don’t have to worry about these things, because someone can sit with your loved one for a few hours while you take care of yourself. Being able to do these important things for yourself ensures that you’re healthy and happy enough to provide the best care possible to your loved one.
2. You Don’t Have To Take Time Off Work
Many family caregivers find that doctor’s appointments for their loved ones are during work hours. This means that they often must take time off work to drive their loved one to the doctor, speak with the doctor about any diagnoses, updates, and medication, and drive their loved one home. This results in lost wages and possibly taking work home to finish late into the night. With respite services, family caregivers can schedule for a caregiver to take their loved one to necessary appointments and bring them home – all without the family caregiver having to miss a day of work.
3. More Sleep and More Energy
Family caregivers often come home from a long day of work only to take on their “second shift” – their duties caring for their loved ones. They work well into the night for their loved one, cooking, bathing, and doing other things for them. This results in a lack of energy and much needed sleep, as they aren’t taking the time to relax and rejuvenate themselves. Respite care services can ensure that family caregivers can take even 30 minutes off from caring for their loved one and just take a break. By doing this, family members will feel rested, relaxed, and ready to resume caring for their loved one.
4. Maintain Relationships With Loved Ones
When family members take on the role of caregiver, the nature of the relationship changes. Soon the loved one depends on the family member for everything, and this almost makes the relationship seem imbalanced. It can cause a lot of confused feelings, including tension or hurt. By requesting respite care services, the family member and loved one can spend some time apart, ensuring that the relationship doesn’t deteriorate. This will mean that the family caregiver and the loved one can continue their relationship and plan of care for longer
5. Avoid Burnout And Ease Depression, Anger, And Any Other Negative Feelings
Providing care to another human being is never easy, no matter what the age of the caregiver or the loved one may be. When a family caregiver is juggling their life and any other dependents they may have, suddenly adding another dependent with plenty of medical needs can be more than one person can bare. After some time, burnout, depression, and other negative feelings are inevitable. It is in this moment that respite care services can be crucial, as breaking down is the very last thing a family caregiver can do. It is okay to call a respite caregiver for even just one hour to allow the family member to do something for themselves. This will stave off burnout and help the family caregiver be happier and healthier.
Family caregivers are some of the most important people in the world. They do so much for so little in return, and their contributions to their family and to society are immeasurable. It may feel like hiring a respite caregiver is “tapping out”, but it is in both your best interest and your loved one’s as well. Instead of straining your relationship, it will help strengthen it. This is because a respite caregiver not only helps loved ones maintain their lives – they help the family caregiver maintain a normal life as well.