No matter how rewarding it is for you, caring for your loved one and maintaining your own life is extremely difficult. It is extremely important that you get a little time to relax. Otherwise, you may get fatigued and depressed with constant in-home care.
Setting up a respite care service schedule should never make you feel guilty. This schedule will actually make a better family caregiver in the long-term. Even if it’s just an extended lunch visit with a friend, that break from in-home care will give you the energy you need to be the best caregiver possible. Even if you’re the best multi-tasker in the world, no one can truly do it all.
Who Needs Respite Care?
Unfortunately, many caregivers don’t even realize that respite care is an option. They push themselves to the point of actual illness before someone tells them that they can get help. As a primary caregiver, you know very well that your loved one depends on you. But they can’t depend on someone who isn’t caring for themselves as well.
A 2005 study released by The Commonwealth Fund showed that about 16 million adults of working age spend time caring for another family member. Nine million of those adults have developed health issues of their own. It is obvious that caregivers pay the price to take care of their loved ones. Respite care providers can help reduce the overall burden.
Helping Them Understand Respite Care
Accepting personal care from someone else is not an easy choice for anyone. The decision can seem like a loss of independence and it is often overwhelming and depressing for a loved one.
While it is obviously important to respect their wishes, it is also essential that they are receiving proper care. The process of convincing them to accept respite care should be done with the acknowledgment of their feelings, constant reassurances, and overall respect. This is not something you should rush them into.
Choose the Right Time and Place
Due to the sensitive nature of the conversation, you should really think about the time and place you choose to bring up respite care. Starting this conversation on Christmas Day may not be the best idea. Instead, pick a random day to take them out for lunch. The more emotion you can take out of the situation, the better. That’s why their own home may not be the best place for this conversation.
Direct the Conversation with Questions
It is always better to let the other person in a conversation like this one come up with their own solution. If you can ask the right questions, you may be able to get their acceptance of respite care faster than you thought. You can ask questions like “what would you do if you fell and I was out running errands?” or any other questions that might help lead them to respite care as an option.
Do Your Homework
This is not a discussion you should start without doing some research first. Look into the respite services that are available near you so that you can be ready to discuss different options with your loved one. Hearing about the specifics reassures them that you care about their needs and want the best for them.
Keep the Focus on Your Loved Ones
While it may be difficult to take your own needs out of the equation, it is important to keep the focus on the needs of your loved one. You don’t want them to misunderstand and feel like you’re deserting them. Talk about their safety and overall health. Consider the current situation and get them thinking about the future. Be honest and acknowledge their feelings at all times.
Focus on the Benefits
If the conversation starts to head in the wrong direction, you can start to steer it towards the many benefits that in-home respite care can provide. Discuss the ways respite services could improve your relationship, enhance their overall care, and discover new things. These discussions may open their eyes to things they hadn’t considered before.
Ask Someone Else for Help
While it may not be easy to admit, your loved one may not listen to you as well as they would someone else. If there is a religious leader, a friend, or another relative that they would be more willing to listen to, don’t be afraid to get them involved when considering a respite caregiver.
If They Still Resist
Introducing respite care to your loved one is already a difficult process, but what if they resist the idea? How can you help them understand why it’s the best choice?
The first step to overcoming this problem is to figure out the reasons for their reluctance. Sometimes, you may need to look for emotions behind their actual words. For example, if they say something like “I don’t want help from strangers,” that may really mean “I’m too embarrassed to let anyone else help me.”
You should try to understand and acknowledge feelings and address them. Let’s say that your loved one is truly worried about respite care being the first step towards permanent care in a nursing home. You would want to have a clear conversation about the plan for returning home once the respite care is over.
In many cases, it is also helpful to get a primary care doctor involved in the discussion. Elderly parents tend to listen to professionals better than they do their own children.
If you’ve already narrowed down the options a bit, take some small steps to prepare them for such a change. Depending on what type of respite care you’re considering, you can ask an aid for a quick visit at home to introduce themselves. If a daycare center is your top choice, consider taking your loved one to visit during an activity. This way they can slowly get used to the idea of respite care.
If, after all these conversations, the resistance is still there, it is best just to be completely honest about your need for a break. Tell them that it doesn’t change anything between you two, but that a temporary break will actually be better for both of you over the long-term.
Different Types Of Respite Care
There are actually several different types of respite care. Your current situation and the feeling of your loved one will help you determine which one is best for you. There will always be the opportunity to change types in the future.
In-Home Respite Care
Sometimes family and friends can be excellent sources of temporary help. They are also a great first step for those reluctant to start respite care. However, if that option is not available or if your loved one requires skilled care, you can hire in-home aids independently or through an agency. There are in-home aids which can provide personal care services, skilled care services, homemaker services or even just companion services.
Daily Care Centers
These centers offer an option for care outside of the home. They promote the individual’s abilities, strengths, and overall independence while ensuring their needs are met. Many participants enjoy this type of care because it gives them the opportunity to socialize with others like them in a safe environment. For caregivers trying to work during the day, this type of respite care can be especially helpful. However, these centers have limited hours and do not care for participants overnight.
Residential Care Facilities
Whether you need respite care for a period of just a few days or a few weeks, residential care facilities provide care on a 24/7 basis throughout the individual’s stay. This type of care makes it possible for primary caregivers to take extended breaks or vacations without worrying about their loved one. In a good residential care facility, each participant will stay in a safe and supervised environment that is designed to meet their own specific needs.
Even if you provide the best care possible for your loved one, the long-term effects of stress can destroy your health and overall well-being. When the psychological, physical and emotional toll of providing primary care starts to wear you down, you must remember that you have options. Respite care might be the perfect answer to improving the situation for both you and your loved one.
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As a primary caregiver, you know very well that your loved one depends on you. But they can’t depend on someone who isn’t caring for themselves as well.
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