A Welcome Vacation for Caregivers: 7 Ways Respite Care Revitalizes

“Today, at-home caregivers for aging loved ones are faced with a variety of physical and emotional challenges,” says Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Executive Director of Saunders House, located in Wynnewood, PA. Attempting to balance the responsibilities of home, family, work and personal activities with caregiving can be a huge burden on anyone.”

Sadly, caregivers often pay a steep price for their labor of love with increased stress, physical and emotional burnout, and a decrease in their overall health and enjoyment of life. A recent Commonwealth Fund study reported that 60% of family caregivers age 19-64 surveyed reported “Fair or Poor” health and one or more chronic conditions or disabilities, compared with only 33% of non-caregivers. 

“Unfortunately, many caregivers do not take advantage of valuable support services such as respite care either due to lack of awareness or personal guilt. For example, caregivers are sometimes reluctant to use popular respite care services because they might feel guilty about relinquishing their loved one’s care for “selfish” reasons or because they’re concerned their loved one will not be as well cared for in the hands of others – even though they may be highly-trained, caring professionals.”

The Vital Importance of Respite for Caregivers

According to the Mayo Clinic® article “Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself,” it may be hard to imagine leaving your loved one in someone else's care, but taking a break by using respite care can be one of the best things you do for yourself – as well as the person you're caring for.

They add that family caregivers often neglect their own health and well-being because they assume it’s just part of the job. However, if left unchecked, caregiver stress can lead to serious health risks such as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and depression.

See your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following common conditions:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and constantly worried
  • Physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Significant weight change
  • Feeling irritable, hopeless or helpless
  • Frequent headaches or body pain
  • Lack of interest in things you enjoy
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

A brief respite away from your caregiver responsibilities may be all you need to start lowering your stress and improving your outlook. For your convenience, most respite care programs offer professional care for your loved one by the hour, by the day and by the week to match your specific needs.

7 Ways Respite Care Provides Regeneration and Renewal for Caregivers 

By providing caregivers with some needed “downtime,” respite care offers you a chance to spend quality time with friends and family, go shopping, exercise, and do the things that give you pleasure in your life. Respite care also offers the comfort and peace of mind of knowing that your loved one is spending time with other caring individuals in a safe, comfortable place.

The article, “Respite Care for the Elderly Is Important for Family Caregivers,” lists the many valuable benefits of respite care, including:

  1. Renewal and Relaxation – Taking a walk, strolling leisurely through the mall, visiting a museum or doing whatever brings you joy can calm you, decrease your heart rate and improve your mood.
  2. Energy – To be effective in your busy life, you must take time to re-energize. Even an automobile won’t run on empty.
  3. Space – Having a respite from the caregiving situation for even just a few hours can help you relax and bring a renewed sense of purpose. Ultimately, it can help you become an even better caregiver to your loved one.
  4. Pleasure – As a caregiver, you must remember that you have the right to enjoy life. You have no reason to feel guilty when taking a respite.
  5. Identity – You must be purposeful in maintaining your sense of self. You are important, too!
  6. Perspective – Time away from the caregiving situation allows you to see things more clearly and keep things in proper perspective. You might even think of better ways of doing things and other resources you can tap into.
  7. Engagement – Social isolation can be a huge problem for caregivers. It’s important to take time to engage with your friends and family by sharing lunch, taking a shopping trip or doing whatever gives you personal enjoyment.

Respite Care at the Area’s Choice for Senior Care

At Saunders House, we understand the difficulties that may arise when caring for a loved one at home. We also understand that there are times that you won’t be available to provide that care – in the event of vacations, business trips or simply a needed break to relax. 

Respite care at Saunders House provides family caregivers and their loved ones with a break from the daily care routine. Caregivers are afforded some down time to relax, while loved ones benefit from the care and support provided within our safe, nurturing environment. We give you the time you need to recharge so that you can continue providing the best care for your loved one in the future.

Loved ones in our respite care program are also encouraged to take advantage of the lifestyle offered at Saunders House and are invited to take part in daily activities.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on respite care and its value to at-home caregivers, we’d love to hear from you. And we encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

We also invite you to stay current on senior health and senior care topics by viewing the latest articles and tips on our website.

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 , including respite care to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Voted Best of the Main Line in 2017 by loyal readers of the Main Line Times and Main Line Suburban Life, 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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