Caring for an elderly or impaired person can be rewarding but also demanding. The caregivers really need to take care of themselves first in order to continue providing quality care to another. Studies show these people have a tendency to become drained and overwhelmed by these responsibilities. When this this happens respite care is available so the primary caregiver can recharge their batteries. For purposes of this article, a caregiver is an unpaid individual (a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. Formal caregivers are paid care providers offering care in one's home or in a care setting (daycare, residential, care facility, etc.). Respite care is a service provided by formal, or paid, in home health care workers or Care Associate (CMA). These people should be found through a reputable home healthcare agency if at all possible.
In an article titled “10 Ways to Deal With Caregiver Stress”
AARP has a few suggestions for caregivers to avoid fatigue and burnout. The first thing is to “put your physical needs first.” They go on to say that eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep and making time to exercise all contribute to one’s overall mental and physical health. This seems like common sense but it can be hard to put into practice when managing the daily demands of being a caregiver. Make yourself a priority. When you do this it is easier to schedule activities that support your well-being. In another article titled “Respite Care: A Break for the Caregiver” AARP details ways to make your break easier on both you and the one you are caring for. They suggest involving your loved one in the planning process. If you are going on vacation let them know where and how to contact you. Keep them involved by including them when you interview the home health care worker or home health aide that will be filling in for you while you’re away. The article suggests assessing your needs. “Make a list of what care will be needed in your absence. Also decide if the respite care provider will need any special skills or training to be able to stay with your parent. If so, understand that your options for respite caregivers may be more limited.”
There are some fascinating statistics on caregiver.org. Here are just a few we pulled out of the article.
1. The percentage of caregivers caring for individuals over 85 years of age has increased.
2. Parent care continues to be the primary caregiving situation for mid-life caregivers with 70% of the caregivers between the ages of 50 and 64.
3. More than one in six Americans working full or part time report assisting with the care of an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend. Caregivers working at least 15 hours per week said it significantly affected their work life.
4. 70% of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual caregiving roles.
5. Among working caregivers caring for a family member or friend, 69% report having to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours or take an unpaid leave in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities.
6. 10 million caregivers over 50 who care for their parents lose an estimated $3 trillion in lost wages, pensions, retirement funds and benefits.
7. Predominately single women caring for their elderly parents are 2.5 times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty in old-age.
These statistics would indicate that there is an economic downside to being a primary caregiver. Respite care is temporary but those who have the means to take advantage of this service should consider having ongoing outside help.
How do you find a home care professional that you trust? Get a referral from a friend or medical professional. It’s ok to search on Internet too. Type “home health care agency” into your browser and see what comes up. There are paid ads, called “pay-per-click,” and results that come up “naturally” through search engines. Either is fine. When you call them be sure to ask all the questions you have. Interview the person they suggest. If you don’t like them then ask for another. It’s a very personal relationship and should feel right. Make sure the company is licensed in the county or the state you live in.
Brought to you by Angel Care Nurse Registry.