Follow these 7 tips if you’re a caretaker suffering from respite care guilt.
If you have children of your own, you may remember the first time you left them in the care of another. Or their first day of school. Or the day they left home for good.
As difficult as it was, you knew it was time. It had to be done.
Fast forward to today. You’re a caretaker for a loved one, and you need a break. As difficult as it may seem, you know it’s time. It has to be done.
A feeling of guilt can overwhelm a caretaker who is considering respite care, however. After all, this person cared for you for so long. They sacrificed so much. Don’t you owe them the same?
Of course, you do. But you cannot — and should not — do it alone. Many caretakers utilize respite care, but few make the transition without feelings of guilt, anxiety and a host of other emotions. Caretaker guilt is just as common as caretaker burnout.
Here are seven ways you can make your first time using respite care a positive experience for all involved.
- Don’t wait until you’re burned out
If you wait until you’re visibly and noticeably at your breaking point, the person you are caring for may take a conversation about respite care the wrong way, as if they drove you to that point.
It’s best to get an early jump on the issue before you’re showing any signs of stress. This can help you from sending the wrong message.
- Build up to it
You don’t have to lay it all on the table at once. Instead, make a casual mention about having someone come over to lend you a hand with a few tasks and then steer the conversation to another subject.
Once the seed has been planted, you can bring it up again another day after they have had time to process the idea. This time, offer a few more specifics and then let it go again until another day. This allows the idea to build slowly as to not be too overwhelming for your loved one.
- Get your loved ones involved
Don’t just do all the decision-making yourself. Get your loved one involved in the process. If your respite care is being coordinated through a facility, show your loved one brochures, take them to the facility and let them meet the staff.
Consider getting in touch with another person who uses the same respite care staff and set up a group lunch to ask questions and hear about their experiences.
- Know your loved one’s needs
Make a list of your loved one’s needs. These can be as small as their favorite afternoon television show or as important as the foods that upset their stomach. Communicate these needs to the respite care staff to give your loved one the best chance of feeling at home.
- Remember that it can make you a better caregiver
As a caregiver, you always want to put your best foot forward. And that can be difficult to do if you’re stressed out and stretched thin.
Respite care can help you recharge and reboot, allowing you to give your very best self to the person for whom you are caring. Remember that helping yourself can, in turn, help your loved one.
- Have purpose
Know what you want to accomplish during your break and commit to it. It might be some self-care such as a dentist appointment or a haircut. It might be something productive like cleaning out the garage. Or it might just be some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
No matter what it is, have a purpose and strive toward a sense of accomplishment. You’ll come back to your work as a caregiver feeling truly rejuvenated.
- Stay connected
You don’t have to disappear entirely. Stay connected to your loved one during respite care with a phone call or brief visit. It will let them know you are still thinking about them while reassuring yourself that they are fine and well.
Financial Help for Respite Care
Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) coverage of respite care is limited to Medicare beneficiaries in hospice care. Because Medicare doesn’t cover most respite care, the costs are often what prevent so many caretakers from utilizing it.
But thanks to some new guidelines rolled out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a number of at-home caretaking services may now be covered by Medicare Advantage plans beginning in 2019, and some may even include coverage for respite care.
Follow the seven tips above, and you can leave your guilt behind when you pursue your own respite care.
About the Author:
Christian Worstell writes health, lifestyle and finance articles on behalf of TZ Health Media. He lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife and daughter and spends what little free time he has on the golf course