For many families, the holiday season is an excuse to get together with friends and relatives to eat, drink and make merry. But for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can feel overwhelming to try to keep up with holiday traditions while still looking after their loved one.

Some caregivers may feel too guilty to leave (or even consider leaving) a loved one for a few hours to attend a party or get-together with friends. Others may forgo traveling to family events or making time for activities like shopping and decorating.

But for many caregivers, taking a break from the day-to-day routine of looking after someone else can be the best thing they do for themselves — and their loved one.

Taking Care of Caregivers

According to the AARP, more than 34 million Americans care for someone age 50 or older. They spend an average of 24 hours per week helping with everything from housekeeping to cooking to personal care.

It can be deeply gratifying work, but it can also be mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. Caregivers report much higher levels of stress than people who don’t care for a loved one, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health.

Symptoms of “caregiver stress” include feelings of isolation, sleeping problems and weight gain. Over time, these symptoms can lead to depression, anxiety and a weakened immune system, as well as an increased risk of developing conditions like heart disease and cancer.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, people who care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia are more likely to experience depression and stress-related health issues than those who look after someone who does not require constant care.

“Unlike the Energizer bunny — it goes and goes and goes — caregivers’ batteries do run down,” said Elisha Beard, the supportive services coordinator for the Adult Day Program at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, in a recent Forbes article. “And when they do, caregivers need respite.”

What Is Respite Care?

Many Florida assisted living and Alzheimer’s care communities offer what is called respite care. For a few hours, or even a few weeks, they provide the same level of care for your loved one as they do their full-time residents.

Depending on the Florida dementia care community, respite services could include bathing and personal care, meal preparation, and medication assistance. Some also offer specialized programming for visitors. At Sonata Senior Living’s Florida memory care communities, our respite care visitors can join in our Duets music therapy program, which harnesses the power of music to help ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

 

This holiday season, don’t miss out on the chance to spend time with friends and family or take part in your favorite meals and traditions. Letting a trusted respite care provider look after your loved one while you enjoy a week, a day — or even just a few hours — to yourself can lead to a more enjoyable holiday season for you and your loved one.

If you are more comfortable at home, find out how to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia get the most out of the holidays.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living’s respite care program, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

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