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I am a Caregiver of an Adult

Many families don't see caring for an aging spouse or parent as a burden; rather it is just what you do for people as they get older.

A Profile of Informal Caregiving in Texas (PDF) discovered the following about caregivers of older adults:

  • 75% are Caucasian or Hispanic
  • The majority are the child or spouse of the person they care for
  • 90% live within 10 miles of the person they care for
  • 95% provide care at least once a week
  • More than half are not employed
  • They are likely to be between ages 40 and 64
  • They are more likely to be female

Caregivers who don't take some time for themselves have been found to develop chronic health problems at nearly twice the rate of non-caregivers. And as many as 70% of family caregivers experience depression and anxiety.

If you don't take care of yourself, who is going to be the caregiver for your loved one?

Find a Respite Provider

Can My Family Provide Respite?

There's no crystal ball; you do your best, with loving intentions. Try to keep in mind the bigger picture — health, safety and quality of life for yourself as well as your loved one. Share the load, take breaks without guilt, use humor, don't overlook the small gifts along the way.

If your spouse needs a companion while you run some errands, willing family and friends may be a great option. But if your loved one has special medical needs they can't take care of or if you need help for an extended time, you may have to find a professional respite provider. (Learn more about this below.)

Visit "What is Respite," for more information about finding the right caregiver for your loved one.

Where Is Respite Provided?

Where you get respite depends on family preferences, available services and other factors. The most important thing is that you find what is right for your family and that you, as caregiver, get a break.

Respite can be provided many places:

  • In your home
  • The home of a family or friend
  • At an adult day care center
  • At an assisted living facility or nursing home (in the case of extended respite)

Visit "What is Respite," for more information about the types of respite available.

How do I Find a Respite Provider?

Please visit our searchable list of respite providers and programs in Texas. It includes all types of providers and you can search it based on the type of service you need and where you live.

If you are looking for more informal arrangements, you might consider asking family or friends for help, putting a notice up at your church, placing an ad in the paper or forming a caregiver cooperative. More ideas can be found in Get Creative About Respite Care: A Parent's Guide (PDF), from the Connecticut Lifespan Respite Coalition.

Common Myths about Respite for Older Adults

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They actually are two different things:

  • Respite is a much needed break for caregivers.

  • Hospice is for anyone who has been diagnosed with any terminal illness and given six months or less to live. (Learn more about hospice.)

As with all things in life, what you need often determines the cost.

If you need someone to keep your husband company while you run errands, you might be able to get a family member or friend to stay with him while you are out. Or you might even be able to hire a student or retiree for a reasonable amount.

If your mother needs medical care that can't be provided by an untrained person, you likely will want to find a respite provider with trained staff.

Before you worry about the cost, find out if your loved one qualifies for state or federal programs that might cover the cost. These may include services from Medicaid, Medicare, Veteran's Affairs or others.

  • To find out about Medicaid or other state programs, call 1-855-937-2372 to talk with a trained professional about your options.

  • To find out respite services for pre-9/11 veterans, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Respite website. For information on how to access respite services for post-9/11 veterans, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Caregiver Support website.

  • To find out about Medicare benefits, visit Medicare.gov.

The most affordable options are likely available through state or federal programs, and not all of them have waiting lists. Our searchable list of respite providers and programs in Texas includes nonprofit and volunteer respite programs.

Don't feel guilty if you need a break. Finding time for you is so important.

Family caregivers can face years of caregiving responsibility. Without adequate help and support, the stress of caregiving can leave you vulnerable to a range of physical and emotional problems, ranging from heart disease to depression. If you start to suffer, who will take care of your loved one?

According to HelpGuide.org, when caregiver stress and burnout puts your own health at risk, it affects your ability to provide care. It hurts both you and the person you're caring for. The key point is that caregivers need care too. Managing the stress levels in your life is just as important as making sure your family member gets to his doctor's appointment or takes her medication on time.

They offer these tips for dealing with caregiver stress and burnout.

  • Ask for help.
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Practice acceptance.
  • Take care of your health.
  • Join a support group.

While family and friends may not be able to take care of your spouse with complex needs, professional respite providers are equipped to do so.

Some questions to help you screen potential respite providers include:

  • How do you screen your employees?
  • Do they conduct background checks for state and federal offenses?
  • What is their training and level of experience?
  • Will they need additional training to meet specific family needs?
  • Can I meet and interview the people who will care for my family member?
  • Can I request the same employee each time?

Please visit our searchable list of respite providers and programs in Texas. It includes all types of providers and you can search it based on the type of service you need and where you live.

If your mother needs a companion while you take a break, there are many options available. You can ask family or friends to help out. You can hire a student or retiree looking to make a little extra cash. Even some churches or civic organizations have informal respite programs.

If your family member needs a higher level of care, you still have options. Please visit our searchable list of respite providers and programs in Texas. It includes all types of providers and you can search it based on the type of service you need and where you live.

And if you are not sure how to pay for services, call 1-855-937-2372 to talk with a trained professional about your options in Texas.

Balancing acceptance, desperation (over wanting to make your loved one's situation better), and guilt (over not being able to do more) is difficult. Searching for balance is one of the many jobs of the loving caregiver.

Where Can I Learn More?

* Quotes from caregivers, published by Eldercare Locator http://www.eldercare.gov/

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Updated: July 19, 2017