Millions of Americans serve as the main caregiver for an aging loved one. Often, the role of caregiver is very rewarding. You get a sense of fulfillment from caring for someone you love. At the same time, caregiving may come with stress. And, it’s perfectly normal to have times where you feel overwhelmed. Respite care may be on option for some caregivers.
One of the biggest factors in caregiver stress is time. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers spend on average 13 days a month on shopping, meal prep, household chores, and transportation. They average another six days a month helping their loved one with feeding, dressing, grooming, walking, bathing, and toileting.
While it’s often hard to take time for yourself, it’s essential to your ability to be a good caregiver. By accepting help and taking breaks, you’ll be able to give your loved one the best support.
Health Effects of Caregiving
When you’re feeling overwhelmed due to caregiving, it may influence your health. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, uncontrolled stress from caregiving can worsen chronic health conditions. In addition, caregiving may impact your overall immune system making it harder to stay well.
Feelings of stress affect your mood, sleep, and overall mental health. You may find that they also impact the social aspects of your life. For example, caregivers may take time away from hobbies, activities, or even work. In the long-term, this may put stress on their relationships with others outside of caregiving.
Focus on Your Well-Being
Some caregivers have a hard time letting go of taking care of every need. However, your well-being is just as important as the well-being of the person receiving care. Caring for yourself actually benefits your loved one because you have more energy to provide care in the long run.
Self-care activities are more likely to happen when you make them part of your routine. So, schedule time regularly for yourself. To find time away from caregiving, you may need to ask for and accept help from others. You may also need to do research into resources offered in your community.
Think about hiring help for household tasks. Look into meal delivery services or free transportation options for seniors. Find a support group nearby to share experiences with others. And, consider respite care programs to get a much-needed break.
How Respite Care Helps
Respite care programs are specially designed to give you time away from caregiving. Through respite care, you turn over all caregiving duties to someone else. In some cases, this may be for a few hours or a day. In other cases, you may need a longer break where your loved one has a temporary stay at a care facility, such as over Spring Break. What’s most important is finding a program that meets your needs.
Respite care benefits you by:
- Letting you focus on your own health
- Allowing time for social activities or hobbies
- Providing rest and a mental break
- Giving you and your loved one needed space
- Maintaining a sense of self outside of caregiving
So, make respite care a priority for your health – and the health of your loved one. When you return to caregiving, you’ll find you have a renewed sense of energy and focus. And, ultimately, that helps you provide better care.
At Autumn Leaves, our Spring Break Respite Program gives you time for yourself. Read more about our short-term, respite program or call (214) 328-4161 to schedule a tour.