February 7, 2019
In many cases, serving as the main caregiver for a parent or other loved one provides a sense of fulfillment. Caring for someone you love can be a very positive experience. On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal to have times where you feel overwhelmed. Respite care may be an option for caregivers.
When you’re caring for an aging loved one, it may be hard to find time for yourself. For example, a report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP showed family caregivers spend an average of 24.4 hours a week on caregiving. Even more, almost 1 in 4 caregivers provided care for more than 41 hours a week.
Due to the time and energy caregiving takes, caregiver stress is a common problem. However, it doesn’t have to negatively affect you. Many resources exist to help you refocus on the positives and care for yourself.
When you consider your well-being as a caregiver, be honest about your health and stress. According to the American Psychological Association, studies have linked mental and physical health effects with caregiving. In the long run, caregiving may result in higher levels of depression and health problems.
Beyond general health concerns, caregiving affects other aspects of your life. You may find yourself limiting social activities or taking time away from work due to caregiving. Sooner or later, these choices may cause additional stress or feelings of isolation. In turn, they may negatively affect your relationships with other loved ones or at work.
Too often, we don’t do a good job of caring for ourselves. In the midst of caregiving, you may not feel you have time to think about your own needs. Therefore, it’s essential to have a plan for self-care. By making caring for yourself part of the routine, it will become easier to find time to recharge.
Your self-care plan should include making time for your own physical health through exercise, sleep, or routine checkups. In addition, you should plan activities and support for your mental health.
The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends tapping into community resources to lighten your caregiving load. These might include local agencies on aging, transit services, or meal delivery services. You may also find respite care programs nearby, which provide a much-needed break.
The term respite care simply means you allow someone else to provide all caregiving duties for a period of time. At first, you may feel unsure about turning over the care of your loved one. However, everyone needs a break from time to time.
Respite care helps you:
Some respite care programs are for an afternoon. Others may offer a temporary stay for your loved one for an entire week or more, such as during Spring Break. Choose a program that fits your needs and allows you to confidently take time away. By caring for yourself, you’re in essence caring for your loved one too. When you return to caregiving, you’ll be recharged and better able to meet his or her needs.
At Parkwood Healthcare, our Spring Break Respite Program gives you time for yourself. Read more about our short-term, respite program or call (817) 354-6556 to schedule a tour.