When one person is dependent on another, a sense of responsibility and purpose drives the individual providing care. Being a caregiver is one of the most rewarding and beneficial jobs a person can have. A caregiver sacrifices their needs, devoting hours, days, and maybe even years to the happiness and health of another person. Although rewarding, this job can sometimes be frustrating, emotionally taxing, and physically draining. No one person can constantly be the sole caregiver for another. It is important for caregivers to seek breaks every few days or weeks in order to take care of their own health–then, when they return, they can be the best caregiver they can be. However, when one person is fully dependent, it can be difficult for the caregiver to find time to take a break–this is where respite care comes in.
What is Respite care?
Respite care is a planned time when a substitute caregiver will step in for the primary caregiver in order to give them a break. This is typically seen during long shifts, when the primary caregiver needs a break to recuperate, regardless of whether that break is an hour, days, or even weeks. This is, of course, planned in advance, so as to benefit the loved one being cared for. In order for a smooth transition, it is best to communicate clearly with the loved one about what is happening and fully explain that the primary caregiver simply needs a break, assuring that the respite caregiver has been trained and fully debriefed on the loved one’s condition or needs. The loved one is comforted, assured that the primary caregiver will return. Communication and planning are pertinent to a smooth transition every time.
How Does a Primary Caregiver Benefit from Respite Care?
Working with someone who is completely dependent can be emotionally taxing. Whether the one in need of care is easy to work with or rather difficult, it can be straining to constantly consider the needs of another person. If the one in need of care is dealing with depression, anxiety, or an illness, it can have negative emotional impacts on the caregiver. Having respite care is a chance for the caregiver to take a break, whether daily or every few days, to recharge and recenter themselves in their own lives and their own happiness, so as it better serve the one in need of care.
Household chores, preparing meals, assisting with bath time, and assisting with transportation are all ways that primary caregivers provide excellent care. Unfortunately, this is a tiring process and can cause fatigue or soreness of muscles and joints. Because of this, it is important to take breaks, stretch, and never put too much strain on the body when trying to assist someone. Long term, a primary caregiver needs breaks, however frequent, to keep their bodies in the best of shape. Tired bodies cannot help tired bodies. It is pertinent to the success of primary caregiver and for the loved-one, that the caregiver is well-rested and ready for whatever challenges may arise. This is why respite care is so crucial to primary caregivers–these breaks are going to be what dictates how good of a primary caregiver one might be. Plan ahead and see where respite care might be needed in order to get full support as a primary caregiver.
Reflection and Rest
Taking time to reflect, rest, and plan for new situations is how great primary caregivers are made. Introspection and reflection can help a primary caregiver handle tough situations in the future, making the caregiver-loved one relationship stronger and less stressful. As with anything in caregiving, planning and execution are pertinent, making sure that the loved one feels comfortable, supported, and informed at all times. Overall, getting respite care to relieve a primary caregiver of their responsibilities every so often is a great benefit to the primary caregiver and the person needing the care.
Looking into respite care, as the primary caregiver or as the loved one of the person in need of care, can be challenging and different, but it beneficial nonetheless. Communication surrounding when respite care is needed, if it is needed, and how to execute respite care plans are very important, especially when it comes to the happiness and comfort of the person who needs care.