6 Ways a Relative Caregiver Can Catch a Break!

April 19, 2017

Caregiving is tough work!  While the act of providing care and support for a loved one can be immensely rewarding, it is also a job that can exact a steep toll in physical, mental and emotional energy over time.  Add to that the fact that most relative caregivers are among the over 43 million caregivers that are not paid for their work, often creating a financial strain as well.    



The process of “burning the candle at both ends” or managing care for your loved one while juggling time for your own family and career can often leave absolutely no room to take a breath and recharge.  Unfortunately for many,  stacking this much responsibility on one person is absolutely unsustainable long term and can result in negative outcomes for the caregiver as well as their loved one.  It’s critical that relative caregivers manage to incorporate some type of relief  or respite from their caregiving responsibilities to prevent this type of burnout.  Here are a few options to give you some much needed time and rest to regroup: 

  • Ask for Help  – It’s human nature for many of us to want to manage the entire burden on our own.  After all,  no one can do it quite as well as you can right?  In most cases you couldn’t be more wrong.  Family and close friends can often be the best resource to provide the help you need, particularly if there is a lack of financial resources.  After all, they’re already familiar with much of the background, so getting them up to speed on care needs, preferences and routine will take less time and effort. If you have multiple people that are willing to help, arrange a group conference to make sure everyone’s on the same page and put together a schedule to provide ongoing support for you to have regular periods of time of.  Just make sure your loved one’s care needs do not exceed anyone’s ability to provide care safely and they are truly available for what they’re assigned.  
  • Local Non-Profits – Local non-profit services or faith based organizations can be a real lifesaver to lift some of the weight off your shoulders by assisting with some daily tasks like help shopping, meal prep, cleaning, transportation or just simply a friendly visitor that checks in from time to time. While most are limited to only assisting with non-personal care related tasks, the help they provide can ease a little of your workload and possibly free up some of your time for yourself. Organizations such as Interfaith Volunteers or your local Area Agency on Aging are great places to start your inquiry regarding any local services that might be able to assist in your situation.
  • Home Care Agencies – If you have some financial resources to pay for help, getting support from a professional care provider can allow you a little more flexibility in creating a schedule that meets your needs while feeling assured that your loved one is receiving care from a trained and experienced caregiver.  Home care agencies can often assist with task as small as home cleaning and meal prep to more complex personal care tasks. Home care agencies often have a pool of caregivers ready to provide care as needed or on a regular basis.  Some home care agencies will come out to provide assistance for as few as 2 hours in a day or can help with your loved one full time 24/7 for a short term while you’re away on vacation, so it’s not always a major financial commitment.  Just make sure to state your schedule needs clearly to avoid any confusion and review any contract completely as their requirements to vary. For more information on how a home care agency can help you click here.    
  • Hire Directly – Another great option to get help from an in-home caregiver is to hire one directly to meet your respite needs.  Hiring an independent caregiver is often less expensive and offers you more control over the recruitment process, care planning and scheduling.  You will reliably have the same caregiver each time which can help develop more of a personal care relationship. Independent in-home caregivers often carry multiple clients and are looking to fill in schedule gaps with respite or short-term caregiving opportunities, providing your solution for an occasional break for some “you” time!  Factors to consider when exploring private in-home caregivers are longer interview and hiring processes, background checks and reference verifications.  It’s critical to do your homework and not rush into an arrangement when hiring a caregiver, as that person will have complete access to your loved one.  Also keep in mind that hiring caregivers directly requires the responsibility of managing that person, from hiring to care planning, scheduling and payroll.  For more information on independent in-home caregiver and how they can help, click here.   
  • Respite Care – Senior living communities such as assisted living or memory care facilities are another great option for short term 24 hour care when in-home care isn’t an option or your loved one.  Respite care is a perfect solution when you need to take that weekend getaway, extended vacation or just have to be out of town for business.  Assisted living respite care rates will vary based on your loved ones care needs and amenities offered.  With respite care, your loved one will have all the conveniences of apartment living with all meals provided and shifts of trained staff attending to her care needs. It also gives your loved one an opportunity to try out the lifestyle as an option for a long-term care arrangement.       
  • Adult Day Care –  Whether it’s for ongoing work obligations or just to catch a break during from caregiving responsibilities, adult day care centers are a fantastic option for care during the day. Adult day care programs are available within some assisted living communities or are standalone businesses or non-profits.  These are licensed facilities that provide trained caregiver support, activities and socialization throughout the day while you’re away.  Each program has it’s own process regarding enrollment, assessments and pricing options, depending on services and number of hours needed.  Adult day centers may be just what you need for the occasional day off from caregiving or a more regular long-term schedule to keep your responsibilities manageable.   

These are just a few options for getting some much needed support while you’re providing care for your loved one.  You’re there for your loved one providing the best care possible, but you can’t forget to care for yourself as well.  Please let us know of any other creative methods you’ve used to get some time for yourself!   


About the Author

Doug Breuer is co-founder of MyCareMatch.com and has worked in senior care for the last 9 years for the State of Oregon. From investigating cases of elder abuse to managing the delivery of long term care to residents of Central Oregon, Doug has been involved in all aspects of senior care.

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