Caring and providing for a sick/ disabled family member or friend is a full time job and can eventually take its toll on the caregiver. It is perfectly fine to take a break from time to time and care for your own needs, as you cannot be helpful to the patient if you neglect your own health and wellbeing. In saying that, it is also perfectly acceptable to withdraw from caregiving for the benefit of the patient. In some instances, we simply cannot meet all the needs of the patient and have to seek professional help such as respite care. Respite care provides relief for a few hours, days, weeks or even months. It even offers the convenience of caring for the patient in the comfort of their home, however there are also day health care centers and residential facilities available.
When a loved one or a dear friend is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the onset of symptoms is sudden and the deterioration in health is often a shock to everyone. It is common for a close family member to assume the role of being a caregiver. From a place of compassion and familiarity, the caregiver would then proceed to tend to the needs of their loved ones. Although caregiving is a service of love, it does require a lot of time, energy and effort which would possibly lead to caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout occurs due to a continuous output of energy with a lack of attention to personal wellbeing. Many of those who are eager to help and assist usually have additional personal responsibilities which they must be able to fulfil together with their caregiving duties. Additional responsibilities would include; personal errands, family time or even part time jobs all of which can be energy draining tasks. Exhausted caregivers can experience:
• Changes in appetite: A gruelling schedule can lead sudden changes in eating habits and diet. Whilst some individuals may begin to eat more when under stress, others may begin to eat less as a way of coping.
• Chronic sickness: It is known that emotional and physical stressors can have a negative impact on the immune system. This will make you more susceptible to colds, flu’s and chronic illness bouts.
• Insomnia: With having to juggle both their personal responsibilities and caregiving duties, caregivers often neglect themselves and ignore early signs of ill health. Fatigue plays a major role in the deterioration of one’s health and concentration levels. Over time it becomes increasingly difficult to have a restful night’s sleep when trying to achieve the general demands associated with caregiving.
• Depression: The onset of depression can manifest slowly in individuals as a result of a stressful and demanding lifestyle. If left untreated it can potentially be dangerous for the caregiver or the person being cared for. It is therefore advisable to speak to other family members or close relatives and discuss the emotional toll and difficulties faced, and perhaps come up with alternate solutions.
It is both mentally and physically demanding to care for a person with conditions such as Alzheimers/ dementia, cancer, blindness or someone who has suffered a stroke. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and require help or rest and this is how respite care can be beneficial to you and your loved ones. Respite care provides your loved ones with comfort and safety while you take the rest you need. Professional caregivers aid with therapy, bathing, eating and drinking, dressing, exercising and the monitoring of medication. Seeking respite care can be a relief for both the caregiver and the ill person. Sometimes loved ones begin to feel isolated or constricted in their home environment and require a break from their usual caregiver and a change in routine. Respite care will be a good break for all parties involved.
There is a huge demand and responsibility placed upon caregivers. When opting for respite care services in a healthcare facility such as a hospice or nursing home, your loved one will receive all the care and treatment they need, which will be carried out by experts in each particular field. Facilities have workers who provide around the clock care and are able to cope better with the rigorously demanding daily tasks which caregiving entails. Many patients often show signs of improvement during the period of respite care, especially those patients who live with greatly stressed caregivers. Being in more stimulated environment, they are able to slowly carry out simple daily tasks. It is common for our ill loved ones and patients to feel guilty about the care they need. This mind set is more than likely to further hinder their recovery or improvement process, however by seeking respite care patients feel less guilty as they know that they are receiving expert care by paid professionals whilst their family caregivers are able to recuperate. Utilizing respite care options should not be frowned upon and caregivers should never feel as though they have failed their loved ones. Taking a mental and physical break is a necessity in order to provide the ill patient with the best overall care in the long run.
If you are considering for respite care options, contact us at Unique Health today and we will gladly assist you with all your questions and concerns.