Why is Respite Important for Caregivers?

Posted on: February 15th, 2022 by New Benefits

Older adults without serious medical issues typically want to age at home. However, they may still need some form of assistance, whether it’s getting a ride to doctor’s appointments, cooking meals for the week, or figuring out how to set up a new laptop. This is where caregivers come in.

Caregivers are usually adult daughters or sons caring for their parents, but can also be grandchildren, neighbors, or friends. They are not trained for this role, but step in, sometimes very suddenly and unexpectedly, to fill a need. On average, caregivers for adults spend 28 hours per week on caregiving responsibilities on top of going to work, providing for their families, and taking care of themselves.

Can you guess which priority often comes last?

Risk of Caregiver Fatigue

Caregiver fatigue or burnout is a serious concern. Although most caregivers want to take on the role and are happy to support a loved one, their own physical, mental, and emotional health tends to take a back seat to other responsibilities. When the weight of caregiving takes its toll, caregivers are either distracted at work, reduce work hours, or end up leaving the workforce completely.

What Caregivers Need Most

One way caregivers can reduce stress and avoid burnout is through respite care. Respite is important for caregivers to remember they don’t have to take on the burden alone. By allowing someone else to step up every once in a while, caregivers are able to take much-needed breaks and return refreshed. 

Papa is a program offering respite care through on-demand and scheduled visits from highly vetted “Papa Pals.” Pals, who are usually college-age students planning to go into the medical field, can assist with transportation, household chores, technology training, or even just offer companionship. 

Caregivers or their loved ones can schedule a Papa Pal to visit weekly, once a month, or within 24 hours if an urgent need arises. This additional support allows caregivers to focus on work or take time for themselves without guilt. 

Supporting Caregivers in the Workplace

Caregiver support should be a top priority for employers to address. There are approximately 53 million Americans providing unpaid care to aging or disabled family members, most of them doing so on top of full or part time jobs. As the aging population more than doubles over the next 40 years, employees serving as caregivers will become a norm. Employers who proactively prepare for this “new normal” will be in a better position for recruitment, retention, and high productivity.

New Benefits ranked caregiver support in our top nine most innovative benefit solutions of the year. See all the benefits we ranked this year by downloading the 2022 Benefit Innovation Report.