A Much-Needed Respite: How Respite Care Can Help Primary Carers Stay Healthy
At first, caring for someone in a home setting can be rewarding. This is especially so if you are caring for your own parent or child. However, over time, and as your responsibilities pile up, you may forget that you have to take care of yourself too. If your hectic schedule means you have little time for yourself, your health may begin to deteriorate.
According to a 2011 survey conducted by Carers Scotland, carers are two times more likely to suffer from long-term illnesses and disability than the general population. When you have little time for your own well-being, you may not get enough sleep, eat too much or not enough food and suffer from stress. All of this affects your mental and physical health.
Respite Care Can Help
If your health is suffering because you spend most of your time and energy caring for someone, respite care can give you the time you need to get back in shape. This is exactly what respite care is designed for. A few hours of assistance per day will allow you the freedom to step away from caring for a short while so you can take care of other things.
You can also hire a live-in carer to care for your family member while you take a weekend off or go on holiday for a week. Ultimately, if your health is deteriorating, you should consider hiring some short-term help, and respite care is the ideal solution.
You Can Hit the Gym
When caring for someone at home, going to hospital appointments, planning meals, attending community activities, etc, exercise is the last thing on your mind. And if you are eating unhealthy food or not enough food, your energy levels will be low.
However, by hiring a care assistant for a few hours a week, you can free up some time to hit the gym. Not only will this strengthen your body and immune system, but it will also help you feel better physically and mentally.
You Can Work on Your Mental Health
The strain on a carer's mental health can lead to depression, anxiety, mood swings and a whole host of related mental conditions. Caring for someone 24 hours a day with little time to relax leaves you drained and exhausted. Naturally, this leads to irritation, anger, resentment, hopelessness and, later, guilt. Stressed-out carers sometimes even resort to emotional eating for comfort.
A study published in the medical journal The BMJ found that anxiety and depression could increase the risk of disease. Don't let your mental health suffer. By hiring some assistance for several hours or a day or two a week, you can make time for healthy activities, such as meditation, yoga, walks in nature and even just the odd trip to the cinema or theatre.
You Can Spend Time With Your Family
It is difficult to find the time to see a spouse, a child or another family member when you are someone's sole carer. Because of this, your family relationships could suffer. In turn, your emotional health will deteriorate and eventually begin to affect you physically. Sometimes, when you are so busy, you don't realise the damage your absence has had on your family.
By using respite care to give you the assistance you need, you can take holidays with your family and maintain a strong bond with family members.
You Can Improve Your Diet
It's hard to eat healthy when all your focus is on caring for someone. However, a poor diet consisting of too many or too few calories, for example, leaves you lacking energy and mobility, making a difficult job even harder. If your diet is suffering, you could take some time off to adjust your eating habits and start a healthier, more balanced diet that gives you the energy you need.
A few hours a week can go a long way where your health is concerned. If you feel that your health is suffering because you never have time for yourself, respite care can give you the time you need to get back on your feet.