Respite Care

WHAT IS RESPITE CARE?

Short-term care arrangements, sometimes available through community agencies and long-term care facilities that provide temporary relief from caregiving responsibilities.

WHO DOES RESPITE CARE BENEFIT THE MOST?

The toll that caregiving takes is not just financial.  Higher levels of depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges are common among women who care for an older relative or friend.  Studies find that men respond to caregiving responsibilities in a fundamentally different way.  Women tend to stay home to provide time-consuming care to one or more ill or disabled friends or family members, while men respond to loved one’s needs for support by delaying retirement, in part to shoulder the financial burden associated with long-term care.  The impact of the women’s intensive caregiving can be substantial.

One four-year study found that middle-aged and older women who provided care for an ill or disabled spouse were almost six times as likely to suffer depressive or anxious symptoms as were those who had no caregiving responsibilities.  It’s not only care for a spouse that can affect mental health, however.  The same study found that women who cared for ill parents were twice as likely to suffer from depressive or anxious symptoms as noncaregivers.

The incidence of symptoms or experiences is not limited to depression.  Various studies have identified other common hallmarks of women’s caregiving experience:

  • A higher level of hostility and a greater decline in happiness for caregivers of a family member.
  • Greater increases in symptoms of depression, less "personal mastery" and less self- acceptance.
  • High caregiving-related stress

Compounding this picture, physical ailments are not uncommon.

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