Respite care is defined as the transfer of primary caregiving responsibilities to another person, typically a professional caregiver, relative or friend, in order for primary caregivers to receive temporary relief from caregiving responsibilities. Respite care takes many forms — some family caregivers choose to have someone take on caregiver duties for a few hours a week or a few hours a day. Or, some schedule respite care for longer periods of time to accommodate an extended break or vacation.
What you need to know when caring for a senior loved one
In its Caregiving in the U.S. report, AARP estimates that 39.8 million family members provided unpaid care to an adult in 2014 and 2015. And, the Centers for Disease Control reports that over half (53%) of caregivers indicated that a decline in their health compromises their ability to provide care.
Caring for a senior loved one is both rewarding and challenging. Family caregivers need to remember that it’s important to take necessary breaks and practice self-care so they can ensure that they continue to find joy in their role.
This can be particularly important for those caring for a senior that has a severe illness. A study led by the Stanford Center on Longevity and Stanford University Psychology Department, which was conducted with assistance from Comfort Keepers and Clear Care, found that for older family caregivers:
• Caring for a loved one with a mild illness generally leaves them in the same emotional state as their peers – with emotional well-being generally greater than that of younger adults.
• When responsible for a loved one with a severe illness, reported emotional well-being tended to be lower than those of their peers.
• The cause of a decrease in emotional well-being is attributed to caregiver’s inability to pursue their social goals and friendships.
The purpose of this study was to help identify the unique challenges and stressors that family caregivers face. As a partner in this research study, we reached out to the family members and decision-makers of approximately 2,000 Comfort Keepers clients.
These results suggest that older people have higher emotional well-being than younger people but not when they have a relative with a severe illness. Not all older people with ailing relatives have low well-being; rather, it depends on the severity of the relative's ailment.
Caring for a senior loved one can be fulfilling and can strengthen bonds within a family. But it’s important to recognize that being a family caregiver can come with feelings of loss, stress and physical strain. Caregivers risk their own health and wellbeing when they don’t account for their own needs or take a break when necessary, and respite care provides a convenient solution for many families.
Comfort Keepers Can Help
Trusting your loved one with someone else can be difficult, but with Comfort Keepers, you can trust that he or she will be in capable hands. Our specially trained caregivers will stay with your loved one while you take care of yourself, for as much or as little time as you need. And, every client receives a custom care plan that aims to engage them in intellectual, physical and emotional exercises and activities. To learn more about our uplifting in-home and respite services, contact your nearest Comfort Keepers office today.