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Why is Respite Important?

Respite by definition is –

 A short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant

Most individuals find caregiving to be quite tiring.  If the need for care is 24/7, it can be exhausting. Even though it is normal for everyone to have their days of overwhelming frustration, frequent caregiving responsibilities can negatively impact the health of the caregiver over time.  It is very important for the caregiver to remain grounded and healthy because the individual needing support is dependent on the caregiver.

It is usually easy to tell when a caregiver needs a break.  Sometimes you see subtle changes, such as moving a little bit slower, a change in grooming habits, or the house not being maintained as well as before. They may be getting a little short with the individual they are caring for.  Sometimes they simply look tired and do not seem to have the same enthusiasm for life that they once did.

It is much easier for someone else to notice the changes in the caregiver than the caregiver themselves.  When you, personally, begin to see the change, respite should be an immediate consideration.

Some individuals can do quite well with just a few hours a week to pursue a favorite activity.  It may be enough to rejuvenate the thirst for living and provide a sense of self.  Others have a greater need for time alone or away.  Some individuals may require daily assistance for their caregiver duties. Everyone is unique, but the need for a break is universal.

Respite for some may be a good night’s sleep while others may require a day or a week away.  It is not easy to discern what will provide respite until you try something.

I recommend that you start by evaluating sleep.  
If the caregiver is not getting enough sleep, a solution needs to be found to provide adequate sleep every other night, with catch-up if needed.  If the caregiver is still showing signs of wear, then daytime respite is needed.  I would start with one or two afternoons per week.   You will know when enough respite is being provided for the caregiver.

Remember without a caregiver that can manage the long-haul you have nothing, so pay attention and take care of the person.

About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

RN / CEO - Emeritus

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