5 Things You Didn't Know About Respite Care

5 Things You Didn't Know About Respite Care

There is a reason why many busy, often-overburdened family caregivers are taking advantage of respite care services today. According to the 2015 National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP® Caregiving in America report, nearly half of all family caregivers are "somewhat stressed" and more than a third are "highly stressed.”

As AARP®concluded, “Taking care of an aging or ill family member can be enormously rewarding and, at the same time, exhausting and emotionally draining. As a caregiver, you feed and read, clean up, make meals, change sheets, and offer comfort and good cheer. You manage your own life during the short, sometimes unpredictable lulls in your loved one’s schedule. It is not surprising that 38 percent of family caregivers rate their job as emotionally stressful.

“Plowing through might feel doable in the short-term, but too much time without a break can lead to caregiver burnout, depression and health problems. Short breaks help you make it through the long haul.”

Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Executive Director at Saunders House in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, adds, “As a caregiver, it is vital to recognize that your own health and well-being are also priorities. It is imperative that you give yourself a break periodically to maintain a healthy balance between your caregiving duties and the things that provide meaning and fulfillment in your personal life -- for your sake as well as your loved one’s. 

“Fortunately, respite care services are designed to do just that. Here at Saunders House, our respite care services provide family caregivers with a needed break from their busy caregiving routines. Caregivers are afforded some much-needed ‘down time’ to rest, relax and enjoy doing the things they love, while loved ones benefit from the care, support, and activities provided within our safe, nurturing environment.  Saunders House has a five-day minimum respite stay. 

‘While many area families are already using our respite care services, some caregivers might not be familiar with how respite care works and the benefits it offers. Here are five examples.” 

1. Respite care is used for a variety of situations – At-home caregivers use respite care for several different reasons, such as:

  • They need to travel.
  • They need a physical or mental break from their daily caregiving responsibilities.
  • They need time to maintain their personal and social life as well as family and work responsibilities.
  • Their loved one needs companionship with peers and a change of scenery from their daily routine at home.
  • They want to “test out” a senior community for their loved one who requires daily care and support.

2. Respite care stays are flexible – Senior care communities such as Saunders House typically offer a variety of respite stay options to accommodate the needs of at-home caregivers.  For example, your loved one’s stay can range from a one-day or an overnight stay to an extended stay of a few weeks.

3. Respite care provides access to a full range of programs, activities and amenities – At Saunders House, respite care guests enjoy all of the life-enriching activities that are available to our full-time residents. These include arts and crafts programs, music and singing, community outings, field trips, tours, visits to cultural sites, movies, games, discussion groups, lectures, cooking classes, intergenerational programs with local schools and more. Also included are three nutritious meals a day, recreation areas, lounges, an outdoor patio and the assistance your loved needs night and day.

4. Respite care helps to reduce dangerous social isolation for both caregivers and their loved ones – Lack of regular companionship with their peers and those who share similar life experiences and interests can create isolation for older loved that fosters apathy and depression. Likewise, caregivers who allow their caregiving responsibilities to isolate them from their friends and the things they enjoy doing in life are also susceptible to the dangers of withdrawal and depression.

5. Respite care benefits both caregivers and the loved ones they care for – Experts in at-home caregiving and caregiver stress say respite care can benefit both parties in several ways, including: 

  • An improved sense of well-being and a more positive outlook for both the caregiver and loved one.
  • Decreased likelihood of friction or a breakdown in the relationship between the caregiver and loved one.
  • A refreshing change from the tedium of the regular daily routine for your loved and the opportunity to experience new and stimulating surroundings, activities and companionship.
  • Some much-needed rest and relaxation for the caregiver that provides opportunities to exercise, spend time with friends, go shopping or enjoy a good book. This type of break enables them to be more mentally and physically able to handle the challenges of caregiving and provide their loved one with quality care.

Says Susan, “Respite care has been called a ‘life-saver’ by many at-home caregivers who have dealt with the daily physical and emotional stresses that can be part of caring for an aging loved one. In addition to providing some welcome relief and time to pursue the things you love in life, respite care also provides the comfort and peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved one is in a safe and caring place. 

“We welcome any questions you have about respite care services and invite you to take a tour of our community and meet our wonderful caregivers. We also invite you to stay current on other senior health and senior care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website.  

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts! 

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section. 

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue. 

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing. 

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online. 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.


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