Respite Care Spells Relief for Stressed Out Caregivers
By Peter Ganther
 

Caregivers who take care of someone in their home must deal with the needs of their loved one 24 hours a day. Most are reluctant to ask for help—even from siblings and other relatives—so they end up carrying the burden all by themselves. Sometimes the stress level reaches the boiling point. The only way to keep this stress from debilitating you, the caregiver, is for you to catch a break. Respite care might just be the relief you need.

Respite care provides a temporary relief to the primary caregiver from the rigors of continuous care. It is not meant to replace any specialized services; it is similar to a babysitting service. This temporary relief can be on a regular, as needed, or emergency basis. Think of it as an integral part of your overall support system.

Personal hygiene tasks, housekeeping, companionship, meals, and daily living activities would all fall under the title of respite care; skilled nursing services and medication disbursement would not. The caregiver and the respite care provider will get together and discuss the type, frequency, and lengthy of care given. Respite care may be a few hours a week, a weekend, or even longer for vacations. Whatever the case may be, it needs to be arranged at least three to five days in advance.

Respite care providers can come to your home, your loved one can go to their home, or they can meet somewhere else like an adult day care center. All respite caregivers are trained in dealing with people with disabilities, but medical and behavioral problems may require specialized caregivers. The cost of respite care is based on annual income.

Respite care can provide the primary caregiver with time to do grocery shopping, go away for a weekend, or even take a much-needed vacation. To quote an American icon, “It’s a good thing.” We can’t do this all by ourselves, we need to set up a system of support and rely on it. If you don’t get a break every so often you may be the next person receiving care.

Copyright © 2002 Today's Caregiver magazine 
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