Millions of Americans provide daily care for aging and chronically ill family members, friends and neighbors – care that can enable these individuals to remain in their own homes and communities and enrich the quality of their lives. If you are a caregiver, you know that it can be a very rewarding experience but can also be physically and emotionally draining. That's why it's very important for caregivers to have an occasional break. Respite care offers caregivers resources for meeting that need, providing the help they need to carve out a little time to recharge.
Caring for another person on a daily basis isn't an easy task, no matter how important that person is to you. This is especially true if the person you're caring for is a bit difficult to manage from time to time, as can happen with loved ones who have conditions like Alzheimer's or dementia, or are simply frustrated, angry, or depressed due to failing health and diminishing independence.
Fact is, it is natural to get tired, both emotionally and physically, even if your charge is the most pleasant person in the world to work with. Taking breaks to do other things on a fairly regular basis is essential to health and well-being.
While you, like most caregivers, are probably aware that taking a break is healthy, it isn't always easy to find friends or relatives who are willing or able to step in and take over to give you a day off – or even a few hours. This problem is one that many caregivers struggle with and is a frequent cause of caregiver burnout. That's why it's important to look into caregiver resources in your area – including respite care services.
About Respite Care Services
So what is respite care for caregivers? It is care on an as-needed basis for a person with special care needs that is provided in order to give temporary relief to daily caregivers. Respite services may be provided in the home, by an adult day care center, or in a skilled health care facility, depending upon individual needs and preferences as well as the caregiver resources available in your local area. Respite care providers can step in to take care of your loved one on a regularly scheduled basis to give you a day or two off every week, once a year for a couple of weeks to allow you to take a much-needed vacation, or in emergency situations, such as a family or health crisis that renders you temporarily unavailable to perform your regular care duties.
Locating Respite Care Services in Your Area
The best time to find respite care is before you need it, so even if you don't need services this minute, knowing what's available in your area is a good idea. Your local senior center is a great place to start in terms of locating respite care resources near you, as are family caregiver support groups. Getting in touch with your loved one's health care provider may yield some recommendations on reliable respite care providers as well.
Last, but certainly not least, the Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network offers an online database of respite care providers and possible funding sources. They also offer information on respite care options to help you in choosing services that will best meet your needs and those of your loved one.