Even caregivers are human, and sometimes they need respite to ward off exhaustion, isolation, and that overwhelming feeling caused by immense responsibilities.
It’s also important to keep in mind that caregivers who work too hard without a break can suffer other adverse affects, such as increased blood pressure and stress levels, or get to the breaking point and do something to harm the loved one in their care.
Several types of respite care
There are various types of respite available to caregivers. One of the simplest options is the Five-Minute Respite advocated by Brenda Avadian, MA. The Executive Director of The Caregiver’s Voice, Avadian founded the organization in 1998 while caring for her father who lived with Alzheimer’s.
She encourages caregivers to give themselves the realistic respite of five minutes by walking away into another room or, if possible, outside for a breath of fresh air when tempers flare and frustrations rise.
While Avadian jokes about the alternative, a “state-mandated vacation” when the caregiver loses control with the care recipient, she makes an important point about caregiving: it is not easy and caregivers deserve a break, a respite.
Plan ahead to give yourself a break
Access to Respite Care and Help (ARCH) advocates for respite that is combined with other services and assistance because it will be most effective for caregivers and care recipients alike. Additionally, respite services are most beneficial if you consider them before you think you will need them, so that you use them before you get too exhausted or overwhelmed.
By planning ahead, you will have more meaningful and purposeful respite time and be able to provide safe and enjoyable care for the care receiver.
Respite has positive impacts
A review in Health Evidence reports that evidence exists from various studies that respite for caregivers of frail, elderly people has positive effects upon caregivers in terms of burden and mental or physical health.
Overall, caregivers were satisfied with respite care. And, it’s important to note that day care was reported as being at least as costly as usual care.
Adult day care centers, also known as adult day services, have been providing respite for caregivers for decades. These services have been expanding in recent years as demand has increased and also as various funding sources have become available.
Adult day care centers also provide health services, therapeutic services, and social activities for people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, chronic illness, traumatic brain injuries, developmental disabilities, and other challenges that increase care needs.
Generally, care recipients attend the program for several hours a day, up to five days a week. Most do not offer weekend services, but some may offer half-day or part-time services on Saturdays.
Choosing an Adult Day Care provider
ARCH also offers guidelines for choosing an adult day care center. Quality adult day care programs should …
- Conduct an individual needs assessment before admission to determine the person’s range of abilities and needs
- Provide an active program that meets the daily social, recreational, and rehabilitative needs of the person in care
- Develop an individualized treatment plan for participants and monitor it regularly, adjusting the plan as necessary
- Provide referrals to other needed community services
- Have clear criteria for service and guidelines for termination based on the functional status of the person in care
- Provide a full range of in-house services, which may include personal care, transportation, meals, health screening and monitoring, educational programs, counseling, and rehabilitative services
- Provide a safe, secure environment
- Use qualified and well-trained volunteers
- Adhere to or exceed state and national standards and guidelines
Resources for finding Respite Care:
- ARCH’s The ABCs of Respite, A Consumer Guide for Family Caregivers
- State Lifespan Respite Programs
- ARCH National Respite Locator
- State Respite Coalitions
- State Aging and Disability Resource Center
- Eldercare Locator Service
- Family Caregiver Alliance’s Family Care Navigator
- VA Caregiver Support Home