“Place the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.” Anyone who has ever been on a flight knows the drill, and the same can be said for caregiving. In order to give your loved one your best, it’s important that you take care of your own mental and physical health first. For caregivers, that means taking a break from your responsibilities from time to time to tend to your own self-care.
How Can I Take a Break When My Loved One Needs Me?
Respite care provides regular caregivers of the elderly, disabled or chronically ill with a break from caregiving for a period of 14 days to six weeks. In some cases, a respite caregiver may provide in-home services, or, more commonly, your loved one will receive respite care in an enriched housing/assisted living community.
How Do I know When I Need a Break?
Unfortunately, as caregivers, we can become so focused on our loved one that we forget to check in with ourselves. If you notice any of these signs in yourself, or in a family member or friend who is a caregiver, it may be time to consider respite care.
• Declining Health or Injury
If you find that you are continually getting sick or feeling run down, it’s time for a break. Injuries are another sign that you may be overextending yourself. In either case, you need downtime to heal and get your immune system back on track. By taking a temporary respite from caregiving, you’ll be able to focus on getting the care you need, so that you can get back to caring for your loved one.
• Becoming Irritable or Impatient
Caregivers are inherently patient people, so if you notice your patience wearing thin, or find that you are becoming agitated more easily or frustrated with things that you could previously take in stride, you could be experiencing caregiver burnout. Respite care allows you to take a step back and press the reset button, so you can return to your responsibilities refreshed.
• Exhibiting Depression
Sadness, resentment, guilt, anger – these are all normal feelings experienced by caregivers, but if you find you are no longer able to manage these emotions, or you experience a sense of hopelessness, lack of interest or withdrawal, your own self-care needs to take priority. Depression is a real concern among caregivers and a sure sign that you need a break.
• Making Mistakes
Lack of sleep, or simply trying to juggle too many things at once, can make you more prone to slip-ups, which puts both your health and that of your loved one at risk. If you find you’re forgetting simple safety measures, like lifting with your legs, or missing doctor appointments or medication doses, respite care is an absolute must.
• Missing Out on Life
“Me time” isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity that is often put on a backburner for caregivers. Yet, without it, caregivers are more likely to experience burn out and become depressed. If you can’t remember the last time you took a vacation, had a night out with friends, or did something that you enjoyed, you need to make it a priority. Respite care provides you with a little extra time for yourself, your family, and your friends.
How to Choose a Respite Care Community
Make a list of what care will be needed in your absence, and decide if the respite care provider will need any special skills or training to be able to care for your loved one. If choosing a senior community, most services and amenities available to long-term assisted living residents are also available to respite residents, including 24-hour supervision and security, assistance with personal care, medication management and housekeeping services.
Respite Care Services in Upstate NY
If you’re a caregiver searching for respite care services in Upstate New York’s Capital Region, consider visiting the Terraces. With five locations in Troy, Slingerlands, Niskayuna, Queensbury and East Greenbush, the Terraces feature a wide range of amenities and services that offer personal choice and peace of mind in a warm and secure community.