From dawn to dusk, caregivers ensure that their loved ones are safe and their needs are met, often neglecting their own physical and mental health. It might feel doable to keep at it in the short term, but prolonged periods of time without a break can give rise to caregiver burnout and various health problems that follows.
Most caregivers are aware that they need to take a break, yet majority of them will wait until they are suffering physically or mentally before they try to do something about it. They are accustomed to the routine of caregiving, and when they are not, the caregiver guilt takes over. This is a common feeling for many, where the emphasis on filial responsibilities or family before self often comes at the expense of self-care. With the perceived obligation and duty as a family caregiver, many tend to under-report their feelings of stress, as they worry of being invalidated of their needs or being seen as selfish for prioritising their own needs.
However, what many caregivers fail to remember is that caring for someone with disabilities or chronic illness is a long journey. Taking time out from these responsibilities is by no means a luxury, but essential for all. Hence, it is vital for family members or community workers to assist caregivers in making sense of the feelings of guilt that may arise from taking time away from their caregiving duties. It is also important to remind caregivers to seek respite care services before the care burden becomes too great to handle.
Relief through respite
Respite care is assistance that is rendered to caregivers to temporarily relieve them from their everyday routine and prevent burnout and family disintegration. It allows them some time off from care responsibilities to recharge and return feeling rebooted and refocused to better deal with the demands of caring.
All too often, in providing caregivers some respite care, it also offers added benefits for the care recipient. With a shift in their monotonous daily routine, they have a chance to experience variety, new stimulation and a change in their routine. Through this process, they can be exposed to new options of activities and meeting new people (care professionals or other care recipients).
Accessing respite care
Here are some suggestions on where to seek advice on respite care services:
- Silver Pages E-care Locator: Find out more about respite services near you
- Speak to your social worker or case manager
- Day Activity Centre (DAC)
- Centre-based weekday/weekend respite services
- Nursing homes for short-term respite care
- Professional Home-care services for home-based respite care
- Emergency respite care
More information on the above respite care services and tips to plan ahead for respite care can be found in The ABCs of Caregiving digital guidebook developed by students from Nanyang Polytechnic.
This guidebook also provides caregivers with practical and relevant information to better equip themselves for their caregiving journey. Fill up the form here to receive your copy today.