Respite care is a service that supports family caregivers by providing temporary care for a loved one who requires assistance – such as someone with dementia, special needs or disabilities.

Respite care should not be considered a luxury, but instead should be an important component of a caregiving program. It can be provided for a one-time occasion or on a regular basis. Regularly scheduled respites are recommended so that the caregiver isn’t on the verge of burnout before getting help.

Studies show that caregivers for family members are at higher risk for stress-related health conditions such as depression and chronic disease.

Author Julia Quinn-Szcesuil of cites four important reasons why caregivers need respite care: 

You’ll be a better caregiver. Refreshed caregivers provide better care and having a backup caregiver reduces anxiety. An unexpected event or emergency may change a family caregiver’s plans. Respite care makes it possible to deal with an emergency with a professional in-home care provider.

You’ll be healthier. Time off is necessary for mental and physical health. It is essentially preventative medicine that should be started early before the need becomes critical. A consistent schedule of respite care makes caregiving feel less overwhelming

You need to run errands or take vacation. If you need a couple of hours off, short-term respite care can help. For a few days or weeks’ vacation, there are reliable trained professionals for in-home care or temporary stays in a senior living or memory care community.

You need to have fun. Most importantly, the caregiver should be refreshed by the activity, whatever that may be. Whether engaging in relaxation activities, meeting a friend or seeing a movie, the caregiver should plan ahead to make sure it happens.

Respite care also benefits the patient by providing more variety and relationships and reduces feeling of social isolation and depression. It ensures the patient will not be neglected at times when a family caregiver cannot be there. 

Caregivers, however, should be cautious and engage professionals from vetted home care services or a qualified care community if respite care cannot be provided in the home. 

A home care agency can assist with the transition to respite care by assigning a caregiver to assist with household chores, for example. Over time, the patient gets to know and trust the caregiver so that he or she can assist with companion care and more.

Breathing Space is a respite care scholarship program offered by Alzheimers Coachella Valley. Funds are available under qualified situations to assist dementia patient caregivers with temporary in-home care or short-term overnight stays in an approved memory care community. 

For more information call Alzheimers Coachella Valley (760) 776.3100.

1) Why Do I Need Respite Care? Julia Quinn-Szcesuil,;
2) Why Do Family Caregivers Need a Break?, Nov. 29, 2018 | Elderly Care;
3) Why is Respite Care Important? CarpeVITA Home Care, Caregiving, Home Care Advice, May 16, 2014

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