February 7, 2019
If you’re providing routine care for an aging loved one, you’re not alone. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, as many as 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an older adult in the last 12 months.
While serving as a caregiver is often a positive experience, it’s common to also have times of stress. Your role as primary caregiver for another person takes a lot of time and resources. That’s why it’s important to understand not only how to care for your loved one but also yourself. Ultimately, it will help you be a better caregiver.
In the first place, take time to think about how filling the role of caregiver affects your life and health. If you’re feeling stressed, tired, or burnt out, you may need a break. Stress affects your mood, sleep, and ability to focus. More importantly, chronic stress puts you at risk for numerous health concerns.
According to the American Psychological Association, the negative effects of caregiving may also extend beyond mental and physical health. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may take time away from school, work, or other activities. In the long-term, this could affect your career or relationships with others – only adding to your stress.
Different people manage the role of caregiver in different ways. So, make sure you have a plan to manage stress in a way that works best for you. You can’t care for your loved one well if you aren’t caring for yourself.
Many resources are available for caregivers. The AARP recommends starting by asking friends or family for support. If other loved ones aren’t close by or can’t help, you may consider hiring help. Services are available to help with everything from household tasks to caregiving duties.
Additionally, caregivers often find it beneficial to join an in-person or online support group to share concerns. Here you can find others with common experiences and get recommendations for support or care resources. Finally, scheduling routine respite care is essential to avoiding burnout and giving yourself time away.
Respite care simply means you turn over the duties of caregiving to someone else for a time. Programs offering respite care provide your loved one a temporary stay at a place that cares for their needs. This provides you much deserved time to take a break from caregiving. In some cases, respite care may be an afternoon, a couple of days, or a week. However, others may need more extended respite care.
Benefits may include:
The amount of time and type of respite care is up to you and your needs. But, no matter what you choose, be sure you make it a priority. In the end, respite care benefits both you and the person you care for daily.
At Monticello West, our Spring Break Respite Program gives you time for yourself. Read more about our short-term, respite program or call (214) 528-0660 to schedule a tour.