Caregiving for Seniors:  The Importance of Respite Care

What is respite care?

Respite care is caregiving that takes place while a primary caregiver takes necessary breaks, manages other responsibilities, or goes out of town.  It can be short or long term assistance. It can take the form of regular breaks to offer the caregiver time off to rest and take care of matters in their own life, or occasional coverage for a longer period of time if the caregiver needs to go out of town or has another urgent matter to attend to.

Respite care is often undervalued but it’s imperative for those offering care to have breaks. Providing care for family members can be rewarding, but it is nearly always enormously tiring. Without respite care, it is common to see the care level or family caregivers themselves suffering.

According to Statistics Canada

– 8 million Canadians provided care to family members in 2012

– 39% of these primarily cared for a parent

– 60% of those caring for a parent felt worried or distressed because of their responsibilities

– 21% who helped their parents reported feeling depressed

– 18% sustained an injury or seen a medical professional for health problems resulting from caregiving

In a perfect world, you would be able to take care of your aging parent in your home or theirs, relying only on family to help you. But the reality is that caring for an aging or ill parent is a full-time job that can take a toll on the caregiver; add to that the demands of raising a family, working, and other responsibilities, and chances are you’ll need a little assistance along the way.

Who benefits from respite care?

Everyone in the care situation benefits when respite care is available and used regularly. Relationships are relieved of guilt and strain, and the responsibilities can be more easily shared by multiple family members. Some family members may be able to visit or assist with caregiving, others may be in a position to assist with arranging in-home care to ensure high quality care is always the priority.

Benefits to family caregivers:

  • Much needed rest and breaks from the work of caregiving
  • Additional peace of mind
  • Reconnect with your loved one and get back some quality time with each other
  • Flexibility to manage other responsibilities
  • Perspective to assess changing care needs of loved one
  • Relief from guilt or pressure
  • Easier to maintain own health and well being
  • Ability to enjoy a full life outside of caregiving
  • Avoiding burnout that can cause lengthy absences
  • Time for personal growth and learning new skills

Benefits to loved ones receiving care:

  • Better quality care
  • Happier caregivers
  • More social interaction
  • More variety in their day
  • Relief from feelings of guilt
  • Ability to stay in the home longer
  • Easier transition to accepting more help as care needs change

Benefits to families:

  • Responsibility and cost of care can be more evenly distributed among family members
  • Ease of strain and frustration between family members
  • Unbiased assessment of condition and care needs of loved one
  • Long term plan to ensure continuity of care

Why is respite care so important?

Caregiving for aging loved ones can be a long term role, demanding exhausting amounts of time and energy from caregivers. It is important to recognize early on that nobody can offer consistent and quality care without breaks to rest and attend to other responsibilities.

Families often try to manage the care of an aging loved one themselves, first helping out occasionally, then taking on more and more responsibility. However, most already have busy lives, and in many cases work and/or children demanding priority as well. It’s important to recognize just how much time and energy caregiving can take, especially as abilities and needs of those in care change.

A healthier way to approach care of an aging loved one is to keep the family’s focus on the relationships of those involved. Everyone should have ample opportunity to visit and assist with care for seniors in the family without undue pressure to commit to a significant care role. Should someone have the ability to take on more, a plan that involves respite care will ensure they can manage the role over the long term.

Senior Homecare by Angels is a non-medical In-Home Health Care Provider with certified and experienced caregivers; they can provide a vital link in your aging parents care. We offer top-rated respite care services to families and family caregivers in Calgary, AB and surrounding areas.

For more information on respite care, and other ways we help support seniors and their families and caregivers, please see our full list of services.

Have questions or feedback on what you just read? Please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d love to chat with you.

                                                                                    ~  Senior Homecare by Angels Calgary team