Each year, roughly 43 million Americans donate their time and talents to care for friends and family members. As unpaid, or informal, caregivers, most look after older loved ones like a spouse, parent, or grandparent. As pressure mounts over a period of months or years, many family caregivers develop a condition known as caregiver stress.
When allowed to fester, that pent-up stress can lower the quality of life of both the caregiver and care recipient. But knowing when to take a break, or respite, from one’s caregiving duties isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
What Is Respite Care?
Caring for someone who’s elderly, sick, or disabled can be a 24-hour job. Every so often, you’ll need to take some time off to look after your own needs. Respite care is a commonly used term that describes a temporary break for caregivers. Those caregiving breaks can be for as long or as short as you need for them to be, whether it’s a few hours, days, weeks, or longer.
Possible sources of respite care include:
Caregiver Stress Warning Signs
Although it’s highly rewarding, caring for an aging-in-place senior can leave you physically and emotionally exhausted. These are some caregiver stress warning signs that you need to be watchful of:
You’re not sleeping enough
The human body requires 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day to stay sharp. Lying awake night after night because you’re anxious about your loved one’s condition doesn’t give your body a chance to recharge. Sleep deprivation can take a toll on nearly all aspects of your life, including your ability to fight off infections, mental wellbeing, and energy levels.
Prolonged periods of caregiver stress can lead to burnout, resulting in the inability to regulate your emotions. That emotional irregularity can cause you to get frustrated and lash out at loved ones in your life that don’t deserve it.
Your physical health is deteriorating
The average informal caregiver invests so much time in helping others that they neglect their own physical health. Getting sick far too often, unhealthy dietary habits, substance abuse, and lack of exercise are all common traits for stressed-out caregivers. If your physical health is starting to deteriorate, it’s probably best to ask for help.
Your emotional health is also suffering
When overworked caregivers get overwhelmed, it often affects their emotional health just as much as their physical health. Negative emotions like depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem are common, any of which are indications that it’s time to take a break.
You’re neglecting personal relationships
Being a caregiver takes a support network of family and friends that serve as your lifeline to the outside world. Not staying connected like you should deprives you of much-needed socialization, which can lower your self-worth and create negative feelings. Even if you only use a respite caregiver for a few hours per week, it will allow you to catch up with friends or enjoy some quality time with your significant other.
Fun is a distant memory
Your life shouldn’t come to a screeching halt just because you’re a caregiver. If having fun is just a distant memory, it’s time to make some changes. Schedule a few hours of respite care every month so that you can pamper yourself by going to the spa, reading a book, exercising at the local gym, or just binge-watching your favorite TV shows. After all, you’ve earned it!
Family Trusted In-Home Respite Care for Seniors in Virginia
Finding a trustworthy respite care source can be challenging when you’ve never done it before. At AmeriCare Plus, we are a family-owned senior care business that’s been assisting clients and their families in Virginia for over 26 years now. Spearheaded by Team Teal, we offer our clients care, compassion, and security in the comfort of their own homes.
As a licensed home care provider, our highly trained professionals can deliver in-home respite care services including hourly personal care, 24-hour live-in care, companion care, dementia care, and post-operative care. With 10 convenient locations across Virginia, we are one big family taking care of your family. To learn more about AmeriCare Plus now, or to schedule an initial consultation for a senior in our service area, please visit us today at www.americarepluspc.com.