Dear Donna:

I am the primary caregiver for my 88-year old mother who lives in Saline, Michigan. I stop at her house every day either on my way to work or on the way home from work. When I had my annual physical last week, my physician told me she thinks care-giving is taking its toll on my health. My cholesterol is up, as is my blood pressure. She strongly encouraged me to find a respite program for my mother for a few weeks so that I can get some rest. Can you please explain to me what respite is?

Diane in Southeast Michigan

Dear Diane:

Many caregivers find themselves in your position. Juggling the care of an aging loved one with work and your own family can lead to increased health risks. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that at least half of all caregivers experience a decline in their own health. Respite is one way to get help.

In plain terms, respite is designed to give caregivers a break from their duties and allow them time to rest and renew. How respite works is that your mother would temporarily “move in” to a senior living community for a week or two. Any amount of time up to 30 days. She will have the full benefit of nutritious meals, life enrichment activities and outings, and all of the services every other resident enjoys. Some families even use respite on a regular basis.

Most health professionals, like your physician, stress how important it is for caregivers to take a break before they are exhausted. Because caregivers are often reluctant to admit that they do need help, researchers at California State University San Bernardino created a quick caregiver burden quiz . It only takes a few minutes to complete and it will assess the risk a caregiver is at for burnout or a serious medical condition.

Are you a family caregiver in Michigan?

Each of the Heritage Senior Communities across the state of Michigan offers respite.

Call the community nearest you for more information.

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