Home Care Blog | July 21, 2016
The Benefits of Respite Care | Many family members care for senior loved ones who cannot maintain their independence and freedom without support. A recent study found that nearly a third of seniors over the age of 65 receive at least 20 hours of care a week, and a quarter of those receiving care required over 50 hours of care a week. While caring for the needs of a loved one is a labor of love and brings with it many benefits, care is also taxing, exhausting, and can impact the health of the provider.
A study by the Commonwealth Fund found that upwards of 60 percent of family caregivers reported their health as “fair to poor”. Only 33 percent of non-caregivers reported this as their health status. The American Psychiatric Association reported that “between 40 to 70 percent of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, with approximately one-half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression.” The simple reality is that caregiving is hard work. It takes a toll on the physical, emotional, financial, and often spiritual life of the caregiver.
The good news is that even short breaks in care have been associated with positive restoration and healing. These short breaks, or respites, offer the caregiver a time to take care of their own health, keep up their social engagements, catch up on sleep, etc. During the caregiver’s time away, respite care service providers come into the home and maintain the needed services for your loved one. According to “Respite for Caregivers: An Evaluation Study”, 64 percent of caregivers who took advantage of regular respite care services had an overall improvement in health within a year, and 78 percent reported improvements in their emotional health as well.
While many caregivers feel guilty about leaving their loved one, studies show that respite care is highly beneficial for the senior as well. The social benefits of seeing and interacting with new people often have tremendous positive benefits for a homebound senior’s emotion health.
Seniors often struggle to share their fear or concerns with family members because they don’t want to worry them or cause them more stress. By keeping these feelings inside, the senior’s own stress level is increased. Respite providers give seniors the opportunity to share their thoughts and emotions with somebody else.
Many seniors also feel a sense of guilt and remorse for taking away so much of their loved one’s time. When caregivers take advantage of respite services, it actually provides seniors a sense of relief knowing that their family is taking care of themselves as well.
In short, respite care is a short (several hours to several days) break in caregiving. The break affords caregivers a chance to re-energize, relax, renew their perspective, and keep up their own physical, social, and emotional well-being. During the time away, respite service caregivers will maintain the quality level of service your senior loved one requires.