Primary caregivers take on a tremendous amount of stress that can lead to stress-related illnesses and disease. The responsibilities that come with being the primary caregiver of a loved one can be exhausting, stressful, and incredibly isolating.
This is where respite care comes in. A skilled long term care nursing facility that offers respite care services gives primary caregivers a temporary break from their responsibility of caring for a loved one while giving their loved one a safe place to stay and professional staff to take care of their needs.
You might be wondering what’s the difference between long term care and respite care? Unlike with long term care, respite care isn’t meant to be a permanent solution. It’s giving primary caregivers a break in responsibilities in addition to the peace of mind that their loved one is being taken care of in their absence.
Unfortunately, according to the AARP, less than 15% of primary caregivers utilize respite care services. For those that have used respite care services most don’t know how they survived without it!
It’s thought that the reason so many caregivers don’t use respite care services is that they’re unaware that certain skilled nursing facilities, rehab facilities, or long term care facilities offer such a service. In Missouri alone, the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to reach 1.5 million within the next 15 years. With such growth in the ‘baby boomer’ demographic, more and more long term care facilities will be offering respite care services as people opt to care for their aging parents.
Here are three main benefits caregivers often experience with respite care.
1. Improved Health
Caregivers may be so busy taking their loved one to their medical and rehab appointments that they put their own on the backburner. It’s critical to maintain good health to adequately care for someone else.
You’ve heard the old adage of when you’re on a plane going down you need to put your oxygen mask on first? The same applies when you’re someone else’s primary caregiver. Take care of yourself first and foremost, then you’ll be better equipped to take care of someone else.
2. Decrease in Stress
Stress can wreak havoc on your immune system leaving your health in jeopardy. Chronic stress can also lead to depression. Being able to relax and take a break from caregiving duties to catch up on sleep, relax, participate in fun activities, attend social events is vital to prevent burnout and the debilitating effects of long-term stress.
Signs of “caregiver burnout” include irritability, inability to focus, trouble sleeping, and loss of appetite. Having skilled nursing staff able to step in to take over your duties for a set period allows you to decrease your stress levels and recharge your batteries.
Being a primary caregiver can be extremely rewarding but also extremely isolating. Feeling isolated and out-of-touch with the rest of the world can cause completely normal feelings of bitterness and anger to crop up. Social isolation is one of the main complaints of primary caregivers.
Respite care allows you to attend social engagements or even just go grab coffee with a friend with the peace of mind that your loved one is being well looked after.