Caregivers often put their own lives on hold to care for loved ones. They look at taking care of their family member or friend as their most important job. And with chronic conditions like dermatomyositis and polymyositis, care can stretch on for many years.
That’s why it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, as well.
Caregivers look at taking on responsibilities for their loved ones as “their job” and a natural thing to do. It makes perfect sense. But over time, stresses can build and caregivers can start to feel overwhelmed. There are steps that can be taken to reduce caregiver stress—and benefit everyone involved. Here are some tips:
1.Take a little time each day to focus on yourself. Something as small as exercising, shopping, or going to a movie can provide a nice break.
2.Catch up on e-mails and social media. If you’re not able to connect in person, you can keep in touch with friends and family. And keep them informed about your loved one’s condition.
3.Keep a journal. You can include important information about your loved one’s progress, and yours, in your role as caregiver.
4.Keep up with your own medical needs. Don’t miss appointments, no matter how unimportant they may seem.
5.Get plenty of rest. Taking care of someone with dermatomyositis or polymyositis can be demanding. Whenever you can, slow down.
6.Eat well. Face it, with the demands of your own life somewhat on hold—and your loved one’s taking over—you can get run down. A healthy diet can help keep you strong.
7.Pay attention to your feelings. There’s no shame in acknowledging stress, sadness, or even depression. In fact, doing so can help reduce negativity and begin to turn your feelings around.
8.Connect with loved ones. You may find that opening up with other people you care about can begin healing conversations. Don’t be shy.
9.Join a support group. Search locally and online for groups that deliver caregiver support. Even if they’re unrelated to DM or PM. You’ll find you are really not alone.
10.Listen to the one you’re caring for. It can be easy to insist you know what’s best, but sometimes your loved one might be more able than you think. And you may be able to step back and relax a bit.
Respite care is care that lets a regular caregiver step back, relax, and recharge. Caregivers are a special breed, but even their fierce dedication can be challenged by stress and exhaustion.
Sometimes respite care is provided by volunteers. Professionals can be hired if that level of care is necessary. The length of time caregivers take off can vary and should be discussed. It could mean hours or even days or weeks.
Respite care can take several forms. These include traditional home-based care, adult day care, skilled nursing, home health aides, and short-term institutional care. Here are some details:
Adult day care: These programs are designed to provide care and companionship for persons who need help or supervision during the day. This allows caregivers to go to work, run errands, and unwind.
Informal and volunteer respite care: Simply, this means accepting help from other family members, friends, neighbors, or others to stay with your loved one as needed so you can get out.
Many communities have formed either Interfaith Caregivers or Faith in Action programs, in which volunteers from faith-based communities are matched with caregivers to provide them with some relief.
In-home respite care: Generally speaking, in-home respite care involves 4 types of services:
1.Companion services to help the family caregiver supervise, entertain, or just visit with their loved one in need of company.
2.Homemaker services to help with chores, preparing meals, or shopping.
3.Personal care services to help with bathing, getting dressed, using the toilet, etc.
4.Skilled care services to assist with medical needs, such as giving medications.
Is respite care expensive?
The cost of respite care varies, but there are federal and/or state programs that may help to pay for it. Long-term care insurance policies may cover some of the cost of respite care. Your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or Eldercare Locator will have more information on respite care services.