If you serve as your loved one’s primary caregiver, you aren’t alone. According to a 2015 study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, an estimated 34.2 million Americans have provided care to an adult over the age of 50 within the last year; 56 percent of those caregivers worked full time.

Being a caregiver is quite the balancing act, between caring for your loved one, your family, and yourself. Although caregiving is incredibly rewarding, it can also be incredibly challenging. Sometimes you just need a break. That’s where respite care can help.

What Is Respite Care?

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on caring for your loved one that you forget to take care of yourself. Respite care is temporary care provided by a fellow family member, friend, or professional homecare agency that gives the primary caregiver the opportunity to take a much-needed break, or respite.

A respite can be used to do anything that restores a sense of balance, enjoyment, and fulfillment. That may mean meeting with friends for lunch, walking around the neighborhood, or taking care of household tasks that have been pushed to the wayside.

Even if only for a few hours a week, respite care gives you a break from your caregiving responsibilities for some much-needed “me” time. Something as simple and mundane as taking a nap, reading a magazine, or grocery shopping works wonders for your well-being. You may also find it helpful to use your respite to meet with a professional counselor or participate in a caregiver support group to help you cope during what tends to be an emotionally trying time.

Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

Caregivers often get so caught up in juggling their responsibilities that they wind up feeling totally burnt out. Caregiving is stressful, and that stress adds up over time, which can ultimately affect your health – and your ability to care. “Caregiver burnout” is a very real thing: its symptoms are similar to those of depression.

As much as we’d like to think we can do everything, it’s important to be realistic. You may find that long-term caregiving is just too big a job for one person to handle. Seeking help isn’t a sign of defeat; it’s the responsible thing to do. Respite care restores balance to your mind and body, enabling you to be a better caregiver.

Don’t wait until you’re utterly exhausted to start looking into respite care options. Understanding what respite care is and how it can help you now – before you’ve reached the end of your rope – benefits everyone in the long run.

If the thought of entrusting someone else to care for your loved one makes you feel apprehensive, just think: it can be one of the best things to do for yourself and the person you care for. You just need a quality caregiver who can provide you with peace of mind.

Bluebird Homecare can help. From our expert caregivers to our custom care plans, we do everything we can to make sure your and your loved one’s needs are met. Contact us today.