Respite care is often seen as something that mostly elderly people receive after a period of illness or an operation. It’s typically seen as a period of recuperation for an elderly relative, with dedicated round-the-clock care to look after their needs.
But respite care is more than a chance at recuperation for our elderly loved ones; it also represents an opportunity for caregivers to rest and recuperate as well.
According to carersUK “1 in 8 adults (around 6.5 million people) are carers”. The demands of this care can vary from person to person. Often carers find they have to give up work and over the long term a large percentage begin to suffer ill health themselves.
72% of carers responding to Carers UK's State of Caring 2018 Survey said they had suffered mental ill-health as a result of caring.
61% said they had suffered physical ill-health as a result of caring.
The mention of respite care for the elderly can be met with resistance from carers. They may feel that they are not doing enough, or that it should be their responsibility.
But as the NHS puts it, “respite care means taking a break from caring”, they specifically link carer’s breaks and respite care, the two are synonymous with one another.
This period of rest allows you, the carer to take time to look after yourself; it helps to stop you from becoming exhausted and completely run down. In the long-term, you may be better able to care for your elderly loved one than you would have otherwise.
Often care demands increase over time. Carers may find the majority of their time is taken up caring for their loved ones. This can leave little time to spend on their own needs, goals and tasks. Again respite care can help to provide a period where caregivers can take care of these things, and ultimately take care of their own overall health which may have otherwise been sidelined.
Multiple options for respite care/carer’s breaks
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for respite care, there are lots of options to suit both you and your elderly loved one.
A volunteer sitting with the person for a few hours
Getting friends and family to help
Home-care from a paid carer
A daycare service in a care home one or more days per week
A short stay in a care home so that you can go on holiday, or have a chance to simply recover yourself
Benefits of respite care for the elderly person
A break from the norm
Respite care can be seen as a short holiday for your loved one. It’s a break from their usual surroundings and a different set of stimulations, typically from like-minded people that they can develop new relationships with.
Trial of residential services
If you choose to take your loved one to a respite care home then it can be an advantageous opportunity to trial their services for the future. If your elderly loved one’s condition worsens then they may have a better idea of where they might like to stay in the event they need more long-term care.
Delay move into long-term care
By reducing fatigue and minimising the risk of burnout for the caregiver, respite care can help to delay the need for your loved one to move into long-term care. The chance at new social interaction and a better relationship between caregiver and receiver can also help to improve their long-term outlook, again helping to delay the need for long-term care.
Respite care is not an admission of failure
By no means should respite care be seen as an admission that you as a carer are unable to perform your duty. It doesn’t mean that a caregiver doesn’t want to provide care any-more; it simply means that both the carer and their loved ones can improve their quality of life both now, and in the long-term.