Remember when your aging parent started showing signs that they just couldn’t be alone all the time anymore? Remember when you so lovingly volunteered to help them because after all, they are your parent? We understand! Children who take care of an elderly loved one always have the highest hopes of caring for them and tend to overlook the fact that it takes a lot of work, patience and grace. When you are caring for an elderly parent, it is easy to become exhausted or even depressed. Although you are willing to devote your time and energy to help the person you love dearly, it can be a difficult 24-hour-a-day job with few, if any, breaks. Additionally, you may be coping with a relative who has complications like a chronic illness or Alzheimer’s Disease. You are completely justified in feeling that you need help of some kind. In fact, your experience is so common that it has a name: caretaker burnout. It also has a solution: respite care.
Respite is defined as “a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.” Caring for an elderly or sick relative may not be unpleasant, but it is certainly difficult – and never-ending.
Respite care is a service provided by Shepherd’s Staff In-home Care. This means that you can hire a caregiver to take your relative to an appointment or outing while you stay at home, or to stay with your relative while you leave the house to do – well, whatever you want. Catch up on errands, see friends, get some exercise, or do some gardening. Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to take time for yourself to prevent burnout.
Respite Care to Prevent Caretaker Burnout
- In the United States, approximately 53 million people are unpaid caregivers for a family member or close friend. Most of those caregivers are aiding loved ones who are over the age of 50. Interestingly enough, 51% of the caretakers themselves are also 50 or older.
- Women make up anywhere from 61% to 75% of the population of unpaid caregivers.
- Burnout, which is when people are overwhelmed and exhausted, can cause stress, anger, anxiety, and depression. Emotional fatigue can also lead to health issues. According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health), chronic (long-term) stress can compromise the immune system and increase the risk of or exacerbate conditions such as:
- Diabetes: psychological stress can alter insulin needs
- Asthma: released histamine can trigger asthma attacks in those predisposed to asthma
- Digestive issues such as peptic ulcers or ulcerative colitis
- Increased plaque build-up in the arteries
How to Deal with Caregiver Burnout
According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are several ways of dealing with caregiver burnout:
- Talk to other caregivers. It helps to know that your situation is not unique, and that –yes, it really is this hard
- Set realistic goals for yourself
- Get plenty of exercise and sleep and eat healthy foods
- Stay hydrated
- Talk to a trusted friend or a therapist
- Take advantage of respite care
Let’s look at this another way. Do you know how the flight attendants always advise passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before helping anyone else? You can’t be an effective caregiver if you don’t take time for yourself and find a balance in your life. Respite care is the oxygen mask that can help both you and your loved one.
How does respite care work?
Contact Shepherd’s Staff In-home Care online or by phone at 301-304-9147 and we will be happy to conduct a free consultation in your relative’s home to discuss options and get to know you and the person you are caring for.
Respite care is available for as few or as many hours as you need. For example, we can help you for a few hours every other week, or for a full day once a week. Visits of fewer than 4 hours do cost more per hour, but there is no minimum requirement. If you need more than respite care, please know that we also provide home care that can extend to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Caregivers can perform many different tasks to help you and your loved one. For example, they can aid with:
- Getting dressed and undressed.
- Using the toilet.
- Washing and grooming.
- Moving from a bed to a wheelchair or getting up from a couch or recliner.
- Light housework, such as laundry, tidying, or kitchen clean-up.
- Preparing and serving healthy meals.
- Providing companionship. This can include chatting, doing puzzles, playing games together, or reading out loud.
- Paying bills and managing finances.
- Managing medication routines. Although personal care aides do not administer injections or intravenous medicines, they do give medication reminders, which can ease the worry of family members who are concerned about seniors coping with organizational failures that come with memory loss.
- Keeping your parent active to the best of his or her ability.
- Monitoring your parent for signs of memory loss or depression and other mental health issues.
- Driving your parent to medical appointments and other errands. If our caregiver drives your relative to appointments in your car, there is no additional charge, but there is a standard per-mileage rate if the caregiver is required to drive his or her own vehicle.
Superman and Wonder Woman are fictional characters, but in real life, there is no way that one person can do everything, and you should feel no guilt in reaching out for help. In fact, you should be congratulated for understanding that respite care is a logical choice to help both you and your relative. Contact the compassionate and experienced caregivers at Shepherd’s Staff In-home Care.