Taking care of a family member with dementia or other chronic illness can be one of the most rewarding undertakings of a lifetime. However, it can also be very demanding, and family caregivers are at high risk for exhausting themselves – both physically and emotionally. This complete exhaustion is sometimes called burnout, and it can be extremely dangerous.

Family caregivers who are exhausted or burned out are at high risk for physical illness, depression and gaining less satisfaction from caregiving, or from life in general. Spending regular time away from your caregiver responsibilities can help ensure that you are:

  • More refreshed
  • Physically healthier, with fewer colds and illnesses
  • Mentally healthier
  • Less stressed
  • More flexible, patient and responsive to your loved one’s needs

A recent study from the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) found that 38% of family caregivers who were surveyed believed that respite care would help their family, however only 14% took advantage of them. Reasons people don’t take advantage of respite care include feelings of guilt, worry or loss of control. Some simply don’t know where to begin.

Consider your needs and your loved ones

Experts recommend setting up respite services to help get through the marathon of caregiving for a chronically ill loved one. Start by considering your needs, those of your loved ones, and planning ahead to ensure that caregiving remains rewarding through the long haul. Respite care can easily be set up through a home care agency on any schedule that works for your unique needs, from a few hours here and there, to days or weeks of 24-hour-per-day care at a time. A few popular respite plans are listed below.

Transition Care

It’s a good idea to set up some respite ahead of time when bringing a loved one home from the hospital or care facility. This can help act as a safety net as you both get used to new needs and routines.

An Afternoon Off

Many families find it helpful to set up one afternoon a week with a regular home care aide. They can take care of errands, set up appointments during this time, spend time with friends, doing an outside activity, or just relaxing. Some prefer a morning off, or even an evening to go out to a movie or restaurant with a friend.

Daily Activity Engagement

Not only is time away helpful for recharging the family caregiver’s battery, it’s also helpful for the senior needing help. It’s therapeutic to interact with other people on occasion. Some individuals, especially those with dementia, really benefit from a daily session of activity engagement. The home care aide can help the senior with dementia engage in activities they find meaningful. Often this includes housework, laundry, gardening or cooking. This gives the senior with dementia healthy physical activity and the emotional satisfaction of being productive. It also gives the family caregiver a break, and takes care of some of chores around the house at the same time!

Weekend Away

Some family caregivers benefit from a couple days away out of town, at a friend’s house or hotel once a month, or just every so often. Home care aides can come in for days or weeks at a time, covering up to 24 hours per day, if needed.

Some family caregivers find that even just setting up a trial helps clear that initial hurdle and is an important step towards a successful long term caregiving situation.


If you or an aging loved one is considering caregivers in St. Louis Park, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.