A few months ago, you accepted a new job which involves being on duty or on call 24/7. You perform a number of tasks for which you have little or no experience. Your responsibility is overwhelming—the health and wellbeing of people you dearly love. Of course, you are not getting any paid for time spent on the job, and you may be second-guessed in your job performance by friends and relatives who are performing the job with you. You receive no sick days, holidays, personal time, or vacation.
Would you believe millions of people have accepted the same job?
Would you believe they sometimes pay a high physical and emotional price for their service?
The job is that of a caregiver for a senior loved one, and it could be time to ask for a break.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Perhaps you should do a self-evaluation. Below are some of the signs of caregiver-burnout:
- Trouble sleeping
- Poor eating habits
- Headaches and stomach aches
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Constant fatigue
- Short temper
- Frequent illness
- Easily frustrated
In addition, you may be experiencing financial stress and personal guilt as you feel that you are neglecting your spouse and children. Many family caregivers are in the “sandwich generation,” that group of middle-aged parents who are raising their own children and caring for their parents at the same time.
It should be no surprise that between 40-70% of family caregivers report having symptoms of depression. Of those, 25-50% meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression.
That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news.
Respite Care Resources
There are many options for obtaining a well-needed and well-earned break (called respite care) from your role as primary caregiver to your senior loved one.
You can ask a family member to give you a break for a few hours, or even a few days. Perhaps they could take the parents to a doctor appointment or just out for a drive while you unwind. If that is not an option, there are other resources.
Taking your loved one temporarily to a nursing home, assisted living community, or an adult day care program could be a possibility.
There are also respite caregivers who come to the home. This will enable the senior to remain in a familiar environment. The care can be for a few hours, all day, a few days, or scheduled on a regular basis.
Most in-home caregiver services provide some medical supervision, meal preparation and other services, including transportation needs, as well as personal services for those daily activities your seniors may find challenging.
Respite care is available so that primary family caregivers like you can relax and get away, or complete those long-delayed tasks that have been hanging over your head. If you don’t remember what you used to do for fun, ask yourself what you have missed the most while being a caregiver.
Give Up the Guilt: Choose Respite Care
If you feel bad about turning your parents over to the care of someone else, even temporarily, it may help to know that they can benefit as well as you.
Not only will re-charging allow you to be better physically and emotionally, but you will also likely be a better caregiver when you return. A refreshed caregiver has the renewed energy and attitude that creates a positive environment.
When you take advantage of respite care, everyone will benefit from the “renewed you.”
Bethesda offers Respite Care services across the St. Louis area that can accommodate flexible schedules. Contact us to learn more about how this service can benefit you and your senior loved one.