My husband and I have been caring for his elderly father for almost 3 years without a break. He moved in with us so we could help care for him around the clock.
In recent months, my husband and I have both started to experience health problems of our own. My husband’s blood pressure is high, and I’m battling recurring headaches and back pain.
Our primary care physician thinks we both need a break and suggested we find a respite caregiver and utilize their services on a regular basis.
While I’ve heard of respite care before, I don’t really know anything about it.
Can you offer us any advice?
Respite Options for Family Caregivers
Burnout is common among family members who are caregivers for a senior loved one. As you and your husband have learned, caregiver burnout is linked to an increase in health problems for the caregiver. From high blood pressure and stomach problems to depression, headaches, and back injuries, caregivers have higher rates of health problems than their non-caregiving peers.
Respite care provides family members with an opportunity to take a break and focus on their own health and well-being. It can be utilized on an intermittent or ongoing basis.
Since you and your husband have gone so long without a break from caregiving, you might want to consider a 24-hour caregiver for your father-in-law for a few weeks. The two of you can enjoy a relaxing vacation, knowing there is a respite caregiver with your father-in-law around-the-clock.
Once you return, you might want to consider employing an in-home caregiver to help on an ongoing basis—maybe for a few hours each week. This will give you and your husband time each week to enjoy a night out and to focus on eating well and exercising. Your physician will likely tell you self-care is the key to getting your health back on track.
One final suggestion you may find helpful is to connect with a support group for caregivers of aging parents. Whether it is one you and your husband attend at a local church or senior center or an online caregiver support group, you will probably benefit from talking with peers about how they handle daily caregiving challenges.
I hope this information helps you to better understand the valuable role respite plays in the lives of family caregivers!