May 25, 2017 by Kristina Butler
Most articles that are written on respite care address the plethora of benefits available to family caregivers. Ranging from a rest from caregiving duties to an opportunity to de-stress, rejuvenate, and recharge, there are certainly a wide variety of reasons a caregiver should take advantage of frequent respites. That said, respites breaks are highly valuable to the senior being cared for as well.
The majority of seniors receiving long-term care from family caregivers are aware of the sacrifices being made on their behalf. Most of them know that they cannot safely remain at home without support, and they have no desire to move into an assisted living facility or nursing home. Thus, they accept the day-in, day-out help and support of family members. When family members get a chance to take some time off, however, most seniors are relieved.
In addition to feelings of guilt, many seniors feel as if their relationship with their family changes. In many cases, the senior can no longer play the role of the patriarch or matriarch, and this often leads to stress and anxiety. Further, tensions tend to rise when the caregiver starts to get tired, worn down, and fatigued by the daily stresses of caregiving.
When a family caregiver is able to utilize respite care and take a break, it gives the senior a chance to reset. After all, the relationship between a senior and a professional caregiver is quite different than that of a spouse to spouse or parent to child. Many times, a senior can express their feelings much easier to a person that they do not have an intimate relationship with since there is less fear of hurting feelings or offending.
Additionally, people need socialization. For as much as seniors love their family, there are times they want to communicate with other people. Seniors who spend a great deal of time at home face the risk of chronic social isolation even when they have frequent support from a family caregiver. When respite care is utilized on a regular basis, it gives the senior a chance to interact with other individuals. This provides much needed social, emotional, and cognitive stimulation.
Next time you struggle with the idea of taking time off from caregiving duties, remember that respite care is just as important for the senior as it is for the caregiver.