Caregivers Should Resolve to Take a Break

Baraboo News Republic

December 28, 2013 9:40 am

The stress and demand of the holidays can be a lot for anyone. These past couple weeks full of family, food and fun can get overwhelming in a hurry. Now think of those who tackle these responsibilities in addition to responsibilities as a caregiver.

Many people don’t even know what being a caregiver means, or even that they are one. Caregivers are anyone who helps an older, sick or disabled family member or friend, and can include anything from grocery shopping, paying bills, dressing and eating to full-time care. Providing this help is fulfilling and rewarding, but can also be frustrating and difficult. During the holidays, a caregiver can be pulled in so many different directions that it can become unbearable.

Home Health United is urging caregivers of all types to make a New Year’s resolution this year: to not forget or neglect to take care of themselves, and to remember that help may be available.

"Caregivers are amazing people," said Janet Bollig, Home Health United’s senior business development specialist. "They need and deserve to be taken care of as well, and to take care of themselves."

Making time each week to do things that you want to do can help reduce or prevent caregiver stress. Go see a movie, read a book or socialize with friends. Enlist the help of others, and research the resources available in your community, like caregiver support groups. The local Aging & Disability Resource Center is a good place to start.

Respite is also an important way to reduce caregiver stress. Many people feel guilty about taking time away from their caregiving responsibilities, feeling they need to be there all the time. Actually, a break once in a while is important for not only the caregiver, but the patient.

"Caregivers need breaks, but the patients need breaks, too. To give each side a little space once in a while can keep the relationship healthy," Bollig said.

If you’re caring for a patient of Home Health United – Hospice, there are contracts in place with several local facilities to provide respite care to families, including St. Clare Hospital, Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital, and Reedsburg Area Medical Center. A respite stay is usually covered under the patient’s hospice benefit. Contact your case manager for more information.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or like there’s nowhere to turn for help, call Home Health United for an informational visit. A consultation with a medical social worker may be the first step you need in fulfilling your New Year’s resolution – caring for the caregiver.

For those individuals who have lost the one they were caring for, grief support groups are available to help them through difficult times. HHU offers community grief support groups to anyone who has lost a loved one, regardless of whether they were an HHU patient. Groups are starting in January in Baraboo, Sauk Prairie, and elsewhere across the area.

For more information, call 800-924-2273 or visit www.HomeHealthUnited.org.