Being a Caretaker Takes Its Toll
You’re not a superhero. Really, you’re not. You can’t fly across town in the blink of an eye or perform feats of superhuman strength. No, you don’t have laser vision and you can’t run at the speed of sound. You’re just a human being. So why does it feel like you’re being asked to be so much more?
If you are the parent or caretaker of a child or adult with autism or another intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD for short) you know how much the world demands of you just to keep your child or loved one safe and secure. It’s not fair. You’re strained, stretched to your limit. You’ve lost the fire you once had. You do have to perform superhuman acts just to stay afloat, and lately they’ve been taking their toll. You’re teetering, shaky. At the end of the day, you get the job done, but at what cost?
Feelings such as these are signs of emotional exhaustion, a hormonal traffic jam in your brain, and they are exceedingly common for caretakers of I/DD children and adults. Once emotional exhaustion begins, it is a hard cycle to escape. There are a number of ways for you to recharge your batteries, but one of the best and most common is through respite care programs. Respite care is short term relief for the primary caregiver of and I/DD person and it comes in a number of forms.
Types of Respite Care
The most traditional form of respite care is a professional clinical setting where the primary caretaker can leave their loved one in the hands of specially trained caretakers while they take some time for mental peace and rehabilitation.
The second type of respite care is a more informal leave, wherein an outside caretaker will come to the patient’s house for in-home care. The primary caretaker then leaves the house, spending time recuperating while their child is cared for by a trusted adult. These respite sessions are much more informal, and the secondary caretaker can be a relative, a close friend, or an independent health care worker.
Finally, there are numerous different programs offered through faith-based groups. These can help add a spiritual element to respite care and often come at reduced cost or free of charge, although are much more informal than a professional setting.
Each type of respite care has its own unique advantages and disadvantages and those considering respite care should weigh the pros and cons of each before deciding what is best for them. If the situation is unclear, it is always best to consult a trained professional for better direction.
Respite Care Helps Caretakers
Respite care is like halftime in football or an intermission in a play; sometimes you need a breather if you want to be at maximum alertness when it is go-time. While respite care is not necessary in every case, it can be helpful in all. Taking care of someone with a disability is hard work, and even the most enthusiastic of caretakers could benefit from time off.
Guilt is a common emotion felt by caretakers considering respite care. They feel as if they are somehow selfish for not spending every possible minute caring for their loved ones. As if by feeling drained they are not a tough enough caretaker. This is a commonly held conception, but it is wrong. By recharging your batteries, you are making the responsible choice to return stronger, giving every ounce of strength you have to taking care of your loved one.
If you are a struggling caretaker of someone with a disability or you feel your family dynamic isn’t working, contact Coach Ross. He is highly trained and experienced at recognizing dysfunction in family dynamics and resetting the sails so family works for everybody.