PLYMOUTH — In its Caregiving in the U.S. report, AARP estimates that 39.8 million family members provided unpaid care to adults in 2014 and 2015. The Centers for Disease Control reports that over half 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 is important to take necessary breaks and practice self-care to ensure they continue to find joy in their role.

Respite care is 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. Respite care can take many forms, some family caregivers choose to have someone take over for a few hours a week, or a few hours a day. Or, some schedule respite care for longer periods of time to accommodate a break or vacation.

This can be particularly important for those caring for a senior with a severe illness. A Stanford study, 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, 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 study identified the unique challenges and stressors family caregivers face. The 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 a loved one with someone else can be difficult, but with Comfort Keepers offers trained caregivers to stay with a loved one while a caregiver takes a break. Each client receives a custom care plans that aims to engage them in intellectual, physical and emotional exercises and activities. To learn more about in-home and respite services, contact Comfort Keepers by calling 603-536-6060, or visiting www.nhcomfortkeepers.com.

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