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Why Respite Care Is Important

Some weeks ago, we examined the subject of elder abuse.  Elder Abuse is something we are very aware of and we are constantly observing for any risk of abuse, it is a subject that families don’t like to consider. However, the reality is that elder abuse takes many forms, from physical to emotional and from psychological to financial, for example.

This article highlights that there were 2,437 referrals of elder abuse to the HSE last year, down 1% on the previous year but an increase of 30% since 2008.  Many people may be of the opinion that those most at risk of being abused are in the older age brackets, over eighty years of age. However, men aged 65-74 were more likely to be referred than men in the older age group.  It appears that sons or daughters were the most common perpetrators of the abuse at 45%.

At Comfort Keepers, we take the subject of elder abuse very seriously.  We have a number of safeguards in place to minimise any risk of this occurring and to maximise the chance of discovering its occurrence if it is happening.

A single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights.” (Protecting our Future, Report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse, September 2002)

It is important that family carers get respite if caring for a parent.  Many people are not accustomed to acting as carers for older people, parenting a child can be very different to looking after an elderly parent.  If a family carer is also a parent of young children or of teenagers, the parent may feel pulled in both directions with loyalties to both for their time and attention. Stress, tiredness and loneliness can all lead to a family carer feeling frustrated, impatient, unappreciated and / or angry. Just as all of us need holidays from our working jobs, family carers need a break too which is where respite care comes in.

One example of respite care is when the main carer is replaced for a short time, this can involve the client going in to a convalescent home or nursing home for a week or fortnight or it can involve a replacement carer looking after the client in their home for the duration of the holiday. Respite care doesn’t have to be full-time, it may involve as little as an hour a day perhaps, it all depends on the needs of the client.

However, respite care doesn’t have to be temporary, it can be continuous. It often happens that a family member is the full-time carer but a Comfort Keepers carer will offer respite care on a daily, bi-weekly or weekly basis. It is no doubt that providing 24 hour care for seven days a week can be exhausting and overwhelming, the respite care provides the chance to have some time to yourself, to recharge batteries, spend time with other members of the family and enjoy your own hobbies.

You can see if you may qualify for a respite grant. Carers must not feel guilty if they need help, it is important that carers look after themselves so they can also be a good carer. A change is as good as a rest and both are imperative to good caring.

If you would like to contact your local Comfort Keepers office to find out more about respite care, you can do so here.

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