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5 Smart Ways to Arrange Caregiving Breaks

Few things in life are as challenging and rewarding as caring for a loved one who is growing older. 

Sometimes it's a parent who requires day-to-day attention and care, or it may be a spouse or another loved one. Many times, it’s an opportunity to repay a lifetime of shared love and memories. Caring for an aging loved one is a chance to demonstrate how much that person means to you. It’s a labor of pure love. 

At the same time, it can be frustrating, stressful and taxing. 

senior looking out window

Taking on the role of primary caregiver for a loved one who is getting older can be hard on the body, mind and soul. This is especially true if the person you’re caring for has a degenerative health condition such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson’s. After a while, you can wind up feeling mentally, physically and emotionally drained. In fact, statistics show that caregivers are at higher risk of depression and anxiety, a weakened immune system, obesity, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

And with the holiday season in full swing, caregivers are even more pressed for time and at risk of burning out.

That’s why it’s critical to take a break now and then.

Respite care provides a safe, caring and comfortable place for your loved one to live while you take a little time for yourself. Your loved one gets the mental, physical and medical attention he or she requires while you get a much-needed chance to decompress, relax and take care of your own needs. 

When you go back to caring for your loved one after a break, you'll be more energized and effective. But to realize the benefits of taking some much-needed time for yourself, you first have to find a way to arrange for respite care.

Here are five smart ways to organize breaks from caregiving:

1. Ask for assistance

Senior man

In theory, it seems incredibly simple, but in reality, asking for help can be one of the toughest things to do. For a primary caregiver, asking for help can feel like a failure, or as if you’re giving up on the person you love.

In reality, asking for help when you need it is one of the best ways to ensure you can continue to provide care for your loved one. Looking to friends and family for assistance allows the people who love you and the person you’re caring for to get involved. They may even see it as an honor. 

2. Consider companion care

Companion care can be a great way to ensure your loved one has his or her needs met while you get a little "me time." Elder companions, also known as home companions, provide companionship to seniors living alone, and can assist with tasks like meal preparation and grocery shopping, among other errands. Consider companion care and you just might find time for yourself at a very reasonable rate.

3. Hire a personal care assistant

Caregiver giving assistannce dressing

For people with the financial ability, hiring a personal care assistant is an excellent way to provide respite care. These assistants are generally trained to assist elderly people with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, toileting and medication management. Hiring one of these professionals isn’t cheap, with average daily rates ranging from $125 and $200 per day, but hiring a professionally vetted caregiver gives you the peace of mind that your loved one is in good hands.

4. Opt for all-day services

Maybe you don't need a week or even a weekend off from caregiving, just a day. Maybe it will only take a week of having your days free to find yourself again. In these situations, all-day respite care – sometimes known as adult daycare -- is an excellent option. 

All-day respite care service providers allow you to drop your loved one off at a safe, secure location where he or she will be cared for during the day. Most daytime respite care businesses provide their charges with activities such as arts and crafts, games, group discussions, outings and light exercise.

This type of care frees up your day to handle personal business, re-connect with friends and family or simply take a long overdue nap. 

5. Look to assisted living communities

Walking with caregiver

For a more comprehensive respite care alternative, you can consider assisted living facilities. Many assisted living and retirement communities offer partial-day, all-day and weeklong options. These communities provide your loved one with the care and attention he or she deserves while allowing you to take care of yourself. 

This can be a pricey option – costs range from about $100 to $250 per day, depending on the care needed. Nonetheless, this type of respite care is a great way to ensure that your loved one will have the chance to engage with others in an environment designed for seniors who need assistance with daily activities.

Hard but Rewarding

It's not easy being a primary caregiver for an aging loved one, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Just keep in mind that part of providing the best care possible is making sure to take regular breaks.

About the Author

Laura is a writer and editor Caring.com, the leading online destination for the more than 40 million family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. We’re focused on giving the expert information, tools and reviews on assisted living, senior care services, and in-home care. We help caregivers make better decisions, save time and money, and feel less alone as they face the myriad challenges that come with this rewarding yet difficult role.