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Give Me a Break! Respite Care for the Caregiver

By August 19, 2008

Caregiver stress and burnout are very real risks for the caregivers of ailing loved ones. Caregivers have higher rates of depression, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, and other illnesses than their non-caregiver counterparts. So what gives? How do caregivers get the much needed relief to care for themselves?

In order to care for others, you have care for yourself. If you are exhausted and have nothing left to give someone else, what good will you be to your loved one? It's like the flight attendants always tell you - put your own oxygen mask on before helping your young children with theirs. If you pass out from lack of oxygen while helping someone who's helpless with theirs, your not doing either of you a favor, right?

The good news is that health care providers are recognizing the needs of caregivers now more than ever. The hospice benefit has a provision built into it just for this purpose. Respite care is one of four levels of hospice care that is intended to give caregivers with burnout or other extenuating circumstances a break. Respite care is usually carried out in a nursing home for a maximum of five days. That may not seem like much, but five days to focus on caring for yourself can do wonders when it's time to focus on caring for others.

The New York Times reported today on respite centers who are providing caregivers similar relief. Although respite is usually not covered under Medicare or private insurance for patients not on hospice, the cost of respite can be reasonable and the benefits priceless.

The Four Levels of Hospice Care

Comments
April 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm
(1) Beverly Burke says:

Dr. Morrow, my sincere thanks for the informative and heart-warming information about the current statistics on the success of marriages after the death of a child. Unfortunately in 1976 when my son died those figures were more the 70-90% group and my marriage did not survive the financial, emotional and physical stress occurred in the death of a child with heart disease. I asked for information because I have written a story I am hoping will be published to speak to the day to day lives of young couples with dedicated hearts to their children and yet learning they are not in control. I am hoping to find a Parents Magazine or Reader’s Digest or similar magazine which will publish it. I have written articles accepted by StarTribune and have taken creative writing courses. I hope this article will help another family in handling life filled with stressers. Again my many thanks…Beverly Burke

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