Respite Care Is a Good Option When the Going Gets Tough

Women bandaging older woman's hand

Caregiving for another human being is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding roles that anyone can take on, yet husbands and wives around the world are shouldering this responsibility with nothing more than love to guide them.

Sadly, when it comes to being responsible for the well-being of another person’s life, love alone is not enough. Caregiving is a tough job, and those who find themselves taking on this role will need all the help they can get.

Family members and friends can provide some of the needed help; however, this is often not enough, and caregivers are left with more responsibilities than they can reasonably handle. This often leads to them becoming overwhelmed, and they begin to worry about their ability to care for their loved one indefinitely.

These are perfectly normal feelings, and no one should feel guilty about having them. Coming to the realization that you are not coping with a situation is a good thing, and this is the signal we need to do something about it.

What to do is the question. Respite care is the answer.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care, is a pre-arranged ‘time out’ period for those caring full time for loved ones who are chronically ill or disabled in their own homes.

It can range from a few hours to several weeks, and can be provided in the home or in an institution that offers this type of service.

When respite care services are carried out within the home, it allows the caregiver a period of rest from their caregiving duties, while still in close proximity to their loved ones. This type of respite is a popular choice for many caregivers.

In-house respite care can provide a range of services, including:

  • Personal care provider: A person comes to your house and assists you with the daily needs of your loved one like bathing, dressing and helping them to the toilet.
  • Homemaker service providers: These individuals take care of general household duties like grocery shopping and preparation of meals.
  • Skilled health care providers: They provide assistance with any medical needs.

These services can greatly reduce a caregiver’s workload, but it can be very difficult for the caregiver to separate themselves from what is happening around them. This can prevent them from obtaining the rest and relaxation they need.

Respite care provided outside of the house allows caregivers a complete break from their caregiving role, and this can provide some amazing benefits, including:

  • Time and freedom to focus on well-being and something other than caregiving duties.
  • Relief of emotional and physical stress.
  • Social interaction with friends outside of the caregiving environment.
  • Peace of mind that their loved one is being well cared for in their absence.

Regardless of these benefits, some caregivers may be reluctant to relinquish the care of their loved ones, especially to a stranger, and they may also have some serious concerns about the level of care that their loved one will receive during the period of respite.

Here are some suggestions that may help alleviate those concerns:

  • Research respite care programs available in your area.
  • Choose two or three programs that provide your required standard of care.
  • Make an appointment with those in charge at these institutions to discuss your situation, and the duration of respite care you are seeking.
  • Tour each of the premises, and take notes of their ambiance.
  • Imagine your loved one in each of these institutions, and ask yourself if they would they be happy there.
  • Follow your instincts, and choose the institution you feel is safe.
  • Evaluate their cost.
  • Explain your feelings to your loved one, and the need for taking a break from caregiving.
  • Assure your loved one that the respite is only for a short time, and that you can still be reached.
  • If possible, take your loved one with you to visit the center prior to booking them in for respite. This will help allay their concerns, and prepare them for coping with respite care.

Respite Care Benefits Patient, Caregiver

Although caregivers may not be aware of it, the person they care for understands the amount of stress they are placing on those who tend to them. Patients worry for their loved ones, and this concern may cause them stress, too.

In these situations, respite care provided outside of the home can greatly benefit both of them.

Whether you choose respite care within your home or outside of your home, the short break this provides can make a world of difference to your health and your ability to cope with your caregiving role. And the good thing is — you can take another short break whenever you feel the need.

Why not give respite care a try?

To help you find out more about respite care and what it can do for you and your loved one – here are some helpful links.

Here are some links you may find helpful:


Lorraine Kember is the author of "Lean on Me," an inspirational personal account of her husband's courageous battle with mesothelioma. She is an accomplished public speaker in Australia and is passionate about sharing her journey with cancer. Her website can be found at www.lean-on-me.net

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