Respite, Support Systems Necessary for Family Caregivers

August 21st, 2017

The job of a caregiver can be rewarding and challenging. Juggling work and your own family in addition to caring for a parent with declining health can be quite an undertaking. Continued support is a key factor to promoting a healthy, efficient relationship between a caregiver and the person they are caring for. We are huge advocates of leveraging local resources whenever possible and finding time for yourself.

According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, as a caregiver, you should neither expect nor try to be on-call 24 hours a day. People who are emotionally and physically exhausted or guilt-ridden cannot provide good care. You may be taking care of a loved one 24 hours a day or you may be stopping at a nursing home every day after work to visit a relative; but if you have multiple responsibilities, you may find yourself feeling resentful toward the person to whom you are devoting so much time. 

Every caregiver needs respite and relief. There are a variety of support systems available in most communities, including but not limited to:

  • Mail-carrier alert program
  • Meal programs
  • Home health aides
  • Homemakers
  • Grocery delivery services
  • Occupational, speech and physical therapists
  • Social workers
  • Respite care caregivers
  • Sitters
  • Nutritionists

Family Caregiver Balance

So how are these family caregivers keeping everything balanced? While some people may not have the answer, we do have some key considerations for how family caregivers can find at least some relief:

  1. Rally the support of other family members
    Organize a family meeting to discuss your loved one’s evolving needs. If you have other family members who live close by, maybe they’d be willing to share in the responsibilities on days you are unavailable. This is also a great way to fill everyone in on your loved one’s condition(s), as sometimes families don’t readily discuss these difficult but important topics. You can even use CareTogether, a free, private online platform, to create a shared calendar for everyone to get on the same page and have visibility to key appointments, etc.
  2. Find a professional agency to provide respite care services
    Asking for help, even if it’s not from other family members, can make a big impact, not only on your workload but also on your mental health. Even if you’re not sure what your loved one might need, you can contact your local BrightStar Care office and schedule a no-obligation personal consultation to find out more about your loved one and talk to you about their needs. From 1 hour to 24, the BrightStar Care team of care professionals can be there in the times when you can’t. 
  3. Ask about the Family and Medical Leave Act
    The relentless demands can drive you to leave your job, at least temporarily, but that has financial repercussions beyond the short-term loss of wages. The Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires certain types of employers to grant personal leave, doesn’t apply to all workers, and, while the leave is unpaid, it could help free up some of your time to focus on your loved one’s needs without feeling like you are jeopardizing your work responsibilities.

For more information and resources in your area, including the possibility of family caregiver support groups, contact your local BrightStar Care office or call 866.618.7827.