Time-out: Caregiver Respite
By Paula Erwin-Toth
Ancient Chinese poet and philosopher Lao Tzu once said “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” As a family caregiver you and your loved one share this deep, lasting bond. As strong as those bonds are, it is important to avoid straining them beyond endurance. Even the most dedicated caregiver is bound to feel the pressure of the day in, day out responsibilities of taking care of another person, even when that person is the one you love more than anyone else in the world.
Time to Recharge Your Batteries
Respite care can offer a variety of options to provide you and your loved one safe and secure choices to permit you to ‘take a break’. Help and support from family and friends are invaluable of course, but if you are the primary caregiver they may only give you time to run errands or walk the dog. Which might result in you constantly checking the time as you rush to get back home, without getting time to catch your breath. Enabling you to be truly free of responsibilities in order to ‘recharge your batteries’ can do both you and your loved one a world of good.
Every Caregiver Needs Regular Breaks
Many people feel guilty for feeling the need to have some time off. Others may face being sent on a ‘guilt trip’ by family members or even their loved one for expressing the need for a break. Caring for a loved one may be a labor of love but remind yourself that it is still labor. Not planning ahead and waiting until you are stressed and exhausted helps no one. Neither you, nor your loved one. As for every job goes, no matter how much you love it, everyone needs days off and a vacation now and then. The same is true for a family caregiver.
Many Different Respite Care Options
There are many ways respite care can be delivered: in your own home, adult day care, or a residential facility. Some families design their own version of respite care where families move in with their loved one on a rotating basis or the loved one moves in with family members for a pre-determined amount of time. There is no one right solution. It depends on your personal situation or circumstances, including the physical, psychological, and financial implications involved in respite care. Also, keep in mind how well your loved one reacts to change.
How to Choose the Right Respite Care Option
Have you thoroughly vetted your selection to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one?
Depending on the type of respite care, there are several ways to help make sure you make the right choice for you and your loved one:
- Check the ratings of the business with the Better Business Bureau.
- Look into your state’s ranking of the residential facility.
- Search to determine if the agency, facility or person has any lawsuits pending. If so, they should be public recorded.
- If the person is an independent caregiver, be sure to contact their references and conduct a background check.
- Consider whether your choice is reliable. You may adore your siblings, but do they have a tendency to make promises and then back out? Are they willing to work with you to attend to your loved one’s schedule and personal needs?
This is where family members, including your loved one, can weigh the options. There are many resources such as elder care specialists, social workers, and counselors that can help you decide on a plan that meets the needs of both your loved one and you.
Remember, respite care can reinforce the bonds of love and sustain strength and courage. Do not feel guilty about needing it.