Whether you’re a family member helping or a paid carer assisting a family on a professional basis, it’s very important that you take regular respite breaks. This is so you can look after your own health as well as the health of the person you are looking after.
Stress on Carers
Stress can be a major factor affecting the health of carers and can make them feel both physically and mentally ill. That isn’t because they resent their caring role or because they don’t enjoy it; the demands placed onto a carer can be both physically and mentally challenging (especially if the patient they are caring for is a loved one) and taking regular respite breaks help to alleviate some of those demands.
A recent study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society found that nine in 10 carers for people with dementia experience feelings of stress or anxiety several times a week, with 80% struggling to talk about the emotional impact of being a carer. Given that nearly 40% of the carers surveyed provided round-the-clock care, it is obvious that stress and anxiety in carers are big issues that need to be addressed.
Taking a respite break doesn’t have to mean taking a holiday. Many carers would find this hard, as they don’t like to be away from their loved one for too long, or to be too far away.
Respite breaks can be something as simple as a day away to go on a long walk, a trip out with friends or even just a chance to be alone with a good book for a few hours. The chance to take time for yourself without the worry of who is providing care automatically reduces the stress of day-to-day life and gives the body and brain a chance to rest, even if you’re not physically resting.
We’d recommend that respite breaks are planned regularly so the full-time care is shared, which helps to preserve relationships within the family and the health and wellbeing of the primary carer(s).
Many live-in carers do not have the chance for a full night’s sleep very often. Patient needs are often complex, and round the clock, so overnight respite care is key to ensuring health and wellbeing.
Sleep deprivation is well known to affect mental health, which in turn then affects how well you are able to sleep even when you are able. Insomnia is a common result of mental health problems, so it’s a vicious circle that an overnight respite break can help to break.
Overnight respite care can be taken by a live-in carer or by a dedicated overnight carer but either way, it allows for parents and other carers to have a full night’s rest without the duties of care to perform. Whilst they may not actually get a full night’s sleep (especially if it’s the first time away from providing care overnight), their body is still able to rest. Physical rest is also key to good mental health and allows for body cells to repair and regenerate themselves in a way not possible with broken sleep and periods of physical activity through the night.
“On Demand” Respite
If there’s ever an emergency outside of the home or the primary carer falls foul of a sudden illness then on-demand respite care will allow for the primary carer to attend or recuperate without worrying about the care of their patient or loved one.
Much as none of us want to think this could happen, having an on-demand respite care plan in place gives peace of mind that every eventuality is covered.
Of course, on-demand respite care is not just for emergencies. Last minute breaks away or other needs within the family such as a child’s concert or school assembly are just as important and on-demand care covers for this type of situation, too. This in turn means the primary carer feels they are still there supporting their other family members as well as the one receiving care.
Talk with us today if you’d like to discuss your respite care options, or run through any of our care services.