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How Can Respite Care Help Bring Back the Holiday Magic?

Location : Home Office 
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A little extra time goes a long way for a caregiver

The holidays are a time of joy and sharing, but often include a fair amount of added stress and responsibility. For individuals who serve as a caregiver for a loved one with a memory impairment or other chronic illness this can amplify anxiety exponentially. For those who are feeling the pinch of holiday stress, getting a little bit of extra help can keep this special time of the year magical and bright.

Respite care is the common name for temporary care that is designed to allow a caregiver to find some time away from the stresses of their day. This can be for a few hours or even a few days, and many services and care facilities offer respite care regularly. Respite care can allow a caregiver the freedom to do a number of errands and activities that their responsibilities may not leave them time or energy for:

  • Shopping
  • Errands
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Social activities

The short-term relief provided by respite care has been shown to combat the stresses that lead to caregiver burnout and, by extension, help lower some of the risk factors involved with a caregiver’s role. Studies show that the stress of being a caregiver for a loved one poses great risks to the health and wellbeing of the one providing care, often culminating in an increased risk of serious illness or even mortality. A recent Stanford study found that roughly 40% of Alzheimer's caregivers die before the individual for whom they care.

Caregiver burnout manifests in exhaustion of a physical, emotional and mental variety, often accompanied by a change in attitude that can take a positive individual to someone who downbeat and pessimistic. This can happen when a caregiver doesn't get the help they need, or if they push themselves beyond their limits - physically or financially. Caregivers who have reached the burnout point may experience weariness, anxiety and despair, sometimes feeling for focusing on themselves for a time rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.

Respite care offers a great many benefits to both the caregiver and the individual receiving care. This applies to both the short-term relief and the longer-term boon of more effective care from a well-rested caregiver. Additionally, depending upon where respite care is given, there are benefits of both social interaction (which research has shown to have benefits to those with memory-impairing diseases) and the professional programming and activities provided.

During the time of year where family and giving take center stage, respite care can one among the greatest gifts – to oneself, to a loved one, and to the entire family.

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