Caring for a loved one can be time-consuming and stressful. With the added responsibilities of a family and career, caregivers may experience caregiver burnout, a condition characterized by feelings of exhaustion, irritability, anger, resentment, guilt, anxiety, and depression. According to the American Medical Association, primary caregivers are at increased risk for illnesses such as colds and flu, cancer, heart disease, and depression. But there is a solution to caregiver burnout. It’s called respite.
Respite refers to temporary relief from the usual caregiver routine. It may be as brief as a few hours or as long as a week’s vacation. Respite is essential so that the caregiver may relax, revitalize, and recharge. Respite is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Finding ways to take periodic “timeouts,” however, requires preparation, financial planning, and assistance from others.
What Is Adult Day Care ?
Adult day care (also called adult day health) provides a safe, therapeutic, and caring environment for a loved one while his or her caregiver obtains respite. Generally, there are two types of adult day health programs. A medical model provides comprehensive medical, therapeutic, and rehabilitative care, while a social model provides supervised activities, peer support, friendship, and recreation. Adult day health service centers are often found in a community-based group setting, and most offer planned activities, appropriate exercise, social interaction, transportation, and meals and snacks, as well as some assistance with personal care, including toileting, eating, taking medication, and other activities of daily living.
To find an adult day health provider, check with local senior centers, mental health facilities, or the area agency on aging. Talk to health care professionals, neighbors, or friends. For each facility, inquire about eligibility criteria and payment options. Be sure to request a calendar of events and activities, menus, hours of operation, and an application.
Paying for Care
According to an ongoing national survey by the National Council on Aging and the National Adult Day Services Association, fees for adult day health programs may range from $40 to $80 per day depending on the services, with an average of $64 per day. These costs may be covered by long-term care (LTC) insurance. Policies vary, but in general, they provide a set amount of coverage that can be used to cover the expenses of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day health services, or at-home care. LTC insurance coverage may expand options for a loved one’s care, as well as opportunities for caregiver respite.
Strategies for Caregivers
Obtaining regular respite is vitally important to managing caregiver stress. Also consider the following strategies:
- Find support through a local or online caregiver support group, or one-on-one counseling with a mental health professional.
- Exercise daily and strive to maintain a healthy diet.
- Reserve quiet time for meditation and/or relaxation.
- Whenever possible, rotate responsibilities with another person.
- Stay active and involved with hobbies.
- Maintain friendships and other social connections.
- Keep up with your own healthcare and preventive screenings.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Remember, in order to be an effective caregiver, you must take care of yourself first.