Everyone knows it can be frustrating and sometimes draining to deal with eventualities associated with aging. However, most of the attention goes to the individual in the throes of it, not to the one providing the support and care. So who cares for the caregivers? Mental health is on everyone’s minds right now, from the stress of the pandemic to growing economic uncertainties. Add to those the stress of caring for a senescing loved one, and it’s a fragile, if not untenable, combination.
Fortunately for all, the heightened awareness of the importance of mental stability is bringing about strategic changes in elder care. Included in this is Respite Care. Simply put, it is caring for those who give care, attending to the physical and mental strain of caring for an elder.
A recent Commonwealth Fund surveyed a group of family caregivers ages 19-64 and found that 60% self-reported “fair or poor” health and one or more chronic conditions or disabilities, compared to just 33 percent of the general population. Primary caregiving for an elder patient or loved one can be a full-time job, yet those same people often have full-time jobs to attend to simultaneously. This kind of multi-pronged obligation can become overwhelming in many aspects, whether physical, emotional, financial or perhaps most commonly, all three.
Respite Care can come in different forms, but ostensibly the goal is to temporarily ease the burden of care for the primary caregiver, offering them a chance to rest, regroup, and take care of neglected tasks. This could simply be a matter of enlisting friends and family to step up so the caregiver can take some personal time, be it a lot or a little. When this isn’t an option, finding volunteers or paid home health aids can provide these services. Alternatively, for more intensive or professional care, out-of-home programs such as adult day care centers, assisted living communities, or nursing homes offer temporary care for various durations. This liberates caregivers overnight, providing overall rejuvenation. Chatham Place includes Respite Care in our comprehensive menu of services, which means consolidated care for your loved ones and the reassurance of trusted backup when caregivers need a well-deserved break.
Respite Care can also offer the recipient a break from their routine, a benefit for elders who might find themselves under-stimulated in constrained environments. In fact, the same benefits can be enjoyed by both sides of the equation, from a renewed sense of enthusiasm, a reenergized outlook, a better sense of self, and even a fresh perspective on things after spending a few days in completely new and different circumstances. And ultimately, if full-service assisted living is probable, these on-site Respite Care opportunities can be transitional, easing someone into feeling comfortable in what might potentially become their new home environment.
No one is a superhero, but of anyone, those who have stepped up to the role of a primary caregiver are as close as humans probably come. Still, no one is invincible. So it’s almost like “off days” from the gym: you need to give your muscles a chance to heal and restructure. The unrelenting schedule of caring for a loved one can be just as taxing and require the same level of recuperation. Embracing Respite Care will not only help the caregiver maintain their overall well-being but can also benefit their charges with reenergized spirit and compassion.