Community Blog

Caregivers for Family Members Require Respite

By Debbie Humphrey

Caregiving:  The assistance family, friends, and professionals provide to those who are old, sick, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. Caregiving can include buying groceries, cooking meals, cleaning, assistance with bathing or personal care, making and driving someone to medical appointments, helping someone get in or out of bed, and more. -

For most of us, it is inevitable that as our parents age, roles will reverse, and we will be taking care of them, rather than them looking-out for us as they have for our entire lives. It’s never an easy transition or discussion, but it is reality. The same scenario can be played-out with siblings, aunts, uncles and friends, too.

Those who assume the enormous responsibility of becoming caregivers for family members, do so of their own free will, in most cases. They sacrifice time with their own families and often relinquish their jobs and incomes to help a loved one in need.

When someone steps-up to be a family caregiver, understandably, this provides a sense of relief to other family members. What should be encouraging for caregivers is the recent study released by John's Hopkins Center of Aging, which suggests that being a caregiver may actually increase your longevity!

David L. Roth, PhD., a director at the center observed, “In many cases, caregivers reported receiving benefits like enhanced self-esteem, recognition and gratitude from their care recipients.”

Of course, this is like a bonus and is great news for caregivers, but it doesn’t diminish the mental, physical and emotional stress that goes along with daily caregiving. Financial impacts, physical demands, along with the mental and emotional investment required, can be daunting at times. When this occurs, it is important caregivers receive respite before becoming overwhelmed. After all, if you don’t care for yourself, you cannot adequately care for someone else!

Moreover, there’s another matter known as caregiver guilt. A family member may internalize feelings of guilt if they need to ask for assistance, because it’s as if they are letting everyone down, including the loved one for whom they care. Conversely, the care recipient feels their own level of guilt for being a “burden.”

This is confirmed by Mattan Schuchman, MD, a geriatric specialist who provides in-home care to older patients in the Johns Hopkins Home-Based Medicine program, “Often these feelings are mirrored on both sides. Having an open conversation with your loved one is really important,” he said.

Schuchman suggests that by not internalizing guilt and stress, by focusing on the important aspects of your health and your role as a caregiver, by taking advantage of some respite care, and by delegating a few responsibilities to someone else, you promote self care, which is very important to one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Besides, by having someone else manage a few of the responsibilities, you are free to spend more quality time with your loved one making new memories…a win-win!

If you are a caregiver for a family member or friend and you need respite; or if, perhaps, you simply need another pair of hands, Home Helpers® is available to provide non-medical assistance. Our caregivers do light housework, run errands, shop for groceries, prepare meals, assist with transportation, offer medication reminders, and so much more. I am happy to offer a FREE consultation, and whatever resources at my disposal, to assist with your needs and those of your loved one.

Home Helpers® is honored to have received the Provider of Choice 2017 & 2018 awards from Home Care Pulse, and we proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine - Healthy Aging