Caring for a senior family member is a labor of love, and you ask nothing in return. But if you’re providing care on a daily basis — in addition to your other work and family responsibilities — you know that the toll on your emotions and health can eventually become a concern.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, caregiving responsibilities affect more than a fifth of American households. Many caregivers report that it’s difficult to find time for themselves. Balancing the responsibilities of family and work — along with coping with physical and emotional stress — also provides significant challenges for caregivers.

More than half of individuals providing unpaid care for a senior loved one say their health has deteriorated. Many don’t see doctors because they don’t have time or because they prioritize their families’ needs over their own. For both unpaid family caregivers and professionals, it’s important to take periodic breaks to avoid stress and eventual burnout. Temporary respite care can provide a solution.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care is substitute care provided in a safe environment to give a regular caregiver a break. It can be provided on either a short-term or long-term basis. In some cases, family or friends may offer the respite care, but professional caregivers also provide respite services.

Whether respite caregivers are volunteers or professionals, it’s important to ensure that they understand and are capable of providing all needed services for the senior patient. It’s also important that the senior who is receiving care understands that the change is temporary and knows what to expect during the transition.

How Respite Care Can Help

For a professional or family caregiver who needs some time to herself, respite care can provide:

  • Time for personal tasks, including shopping, errands, doctor’s appointments and personal care.
  • Time to relax or to spend with friends and loved ones.
  • A chance to recharge energy, allowing the caregiver to be more effective in caring for the senior patient.
  • Confidence that the senior patient is being cared for by a compassionate, experienced, attentive professional.

Respite care provides caregivers with needed time off to avoid exhaustion and possible burnout. Whether you choose to go on a real vacation or simply relax at home, you can rest and recharge while your senior loved one receives respite care.

In addition, respite care can be used in emergency situations, including:

  • A serious illness or death of a caregiver’s family member that requires her attention.
  • An illness of the caregiver.
  • Extreme weather or other circumstances requiring an immediate change of plans.

For the senior, respite care also provides benefits, including:

  • An opportunity to spend time enjoying the company of peers.
  • A supportive, safe atmosphere.
  • Activities that are matched to individual abilities and preferences.

Getting Respite Care Services

If you need respite care in Massachusetts, The Overlook offers a Respite Program designed to provide caregivers with the opportunity to relax and recharge. During either short-term or long-term respite care, your senior loved one will enjoy delicious, nutritious meals and a full range of daily support services in a beautifully furnished, private room. To learn more, please contact The Overlook.


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