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Being a family caregiver is not an easy job. It’s often thankless and payless, and can really take a toll on your mental and physical health. While it can be rewarding in an overall sense to care for an aging parent or other loved one who cared for you when you were small, it comes with many demands on your time, your health, your job, and your own family. Especially if you are considered a member of the sandwich generation — those who are caring for their aging parents along with their own growing family — there’s even more of a need for respite care, especially during hospice care in San Francisco and elsewhere.

No one can do it all, and certainly not for long periods of time without a break. You need time to recharge, refresh and attend to your own affairs. Hiring respite care to fill those gaps can be a lifesaver.

What is Respite Care?

Respite care is basically a short-term break for caregivers. If you are looking after someone who is sick, aging, or disabled, it can be a 24-hour job between your physical presence required along with the off-site hours involved in scheduling appointments, checking in with phone calls, and meal prepping. This can be all-consuming, which is why you need a break every once in a while to attend to your own needs and that of your family. That’s where respite care comes in.Most respite care takes place in the home, and you can choose the time frame you need coverage for, from a few hours to a whole day to a few days or weeks, says WebMD. You can use this time to attend your own doctor appointments, relax, have dinner with your family, go shopping, go to work, exercise and go on vacation.Respite care provides a comfortable, safe place for your loved one when you have to be away from the home. Trained aids, nurses, and other providers can care for your disabled or ill parent, such as those who suffer from dementia, cancer, brain injury, or stroke. They can help with:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Exercising
  • Meal prep
  • Medication management
  • Getting in and out of bed
  • Taking them on appointments
  • Companionship

Elderly, sick or disabled people who still live at home can feel isolated from the rest of the world, but so can their family caregivers. Respite care is a welcome break for both parties. So who needs respite care? Basically, this can be anyone who cares for an aging loved one. But it is especially beneficial for one demographic in particular.

More than half of Americans in their 40s find themselves “sandwiched” between aging parents and their own children, according to Pew Research Center. Fifty-four percent of people in this age group have a parent age 65 or older, plus they are either raising a child under 18 or are financially supporting an adult child. By way of comparison, 36 percent of these adults are in their 50s, and 27 percent are in their 30s.

Knowing When to Ask For Help

Respite care is essential for family members. It can help prevent exhaustion, isolation, and burnout. It can also ensure you attend to your own physical and mental health needs. While that sounds all well and good, many people don’t know how to ask for help. They may feel like they’re abandoning their loved one, or that no one else can do the job the way they can. These are common fears among family caregivers, but giving in to those fears can compromise your own emotional and physical well-being.

That’s why it’s so important to first recognize the signs that you need respite care, and second to actually reach out and get it. Seeking support and keeping up with your own health are both key to sustaining your role as a caregiver, points out HelpGuide. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the daily grind of caring for an aging parent, which can erode your patience and compassion. In turn, this makes it more difficult to connect with your loved one, leading to both of you feeling judged, stressed and unfulfilled.

Taking a break to recharge your batteries will leave you feeling more energetic, focused, and invigorated about your role as caregiver. Here are some signs you are headed for burnout:

  • Lack of energy
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from activities you once enjoyed
  • Neglecting your own emotional and physical needs
  • Neglecting your own family
  • Feeling out of control
  • Becoming quick to temper, or being impatient, irritable or argumentative with your loved one
  • Anxiety about what the future will bring
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Difficulty coping with everyday tasks
  • Headaches and other physical problems
  • Reduced resistance to illness

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out for respite care services. You need time for YOU!

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

We are proud to offer resources for caregivers so they can avoid burnout and the stress that comes with being in this role. Contact us for more information at 888-978-1306 or check out our many resources on anything from dementia care to emergency planning.