You’ve probably heard the old adage:  “You can’t get a drink from an empty cup.”  Well, providing care for others—children, the elderly, the disabled—can be a very difficult and taxing assignment.  That’s why caregivers need breaks in order to care for themselves:  run errands, work out at the local gym, take a nap, watch a favorite television show, or just take a walk in the park.

Respite Care is a break, a rest, a respite a caregiver takes so that he or she can recharge his or her own batteries.  This respite care can be provided by a family member, a trusted neighbor or friend, or a professional caregiver or caregiving agency.

Many caregivers are already juggling a number of other responsibilities.  Many of them have families, some with young children.  Some have other part-time or full-time jobs.  Still many others take care of more than one client; they may have several clients for whom they provide care.

In order for caregivers to continue to provide the best level of care possible, the caregiver may sometimes need a break—a respite—from caregiving in order to accomplish other tasks or just take a break from the demanding tasks associated with caring for others. Without these breaks from constant caregiving, the caregiver may find his or her own health and well-being damaged or drained.

Respite care may be needed for short-term or longer-term time-frames.  The caregiver may need a break from caring for a senior or a person of any age.

Respite care can be provided by professional in-home care services or by asking a friend or relative for assistance.  One of a caregiver’s most important tasks is to monitor his or her own health and well-being, and to seek out respite care when he or she feels the need to take a break from providing care.

“You can’t drink from an empty cup.”  Nor can a caregiver continue to give care from an empty or seriously comprised self.  Respite care becomes a necessary ingredient for providing excellent care for someone else.

About the Author

Cynthia Barnes, PH.D., lives in Denver, Colorado and is an experienced educational and training professional at all educational levels. Dr. Barnes has a background in organizational development and change and systems thinking/operating. She is a published author with exceptional written, oral, and interpersonal relationship skills. Dr. Barnes has consulted with organizations and school systems throughout the United States and in Canada, Germany, Micronesia, and South Africa.

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