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How respite care can keep the carer healthy

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  • respite care , keep the carer healthy
  • Posted date:
  • 05-06-2016
How respite care can keep the carer healthy

How respite care can keep the carer healthy

When did you last take a break? Many care-givers feel guilty about taking time off. However, the stresses of caring can affect your physical and mental health. With some respite and rest, you can maintain your own well-being and ensure you return to your loved one with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

All work and no play…

When it comes to caring, all work and no play can actually make you ill. In research carers reported almost double the amount of health concerns, chronic conditions and disability, compared with non caregivers. The chief executive of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Carole Cochrane drew attention to the importance of respite for the many millions of carers, across the country, saying:

"Without these vital breaks, carers can often reach breaking point where they can no longer continue, and their own physical and mental health deteriorates as result.”

Putting on a brave face

Many carers just keep on going. But caring for somebody can be incredibly demanding on your mind and body: the physical strain of lifting people, the pressures of providing twenty-four hour care, as well as the added stress of juggling finances, dealing with medical staff and worrying about your loved one can be overwhelming.

It can be difficult to care and stay healthy and well. There simply isn’t time to exercise, get enough sleep, cook nutritious meals or get to see your own doctor. Little wonder then that in a survey, 83% of carers said that caring had a negative effect on their physical health; with even more feeling their mental health had suffered. Carers had incredibly high levels of anxiety and stress, as well as increased levels of depression, high blood pressure, back pain and the deterioration of existing medical conditions.

Respite can make a difference

Having support in place and taking a break can make a real difference to your health and wellbeing. Sustained pressure can cause the build up of stress hormones that can increase the risk of chronic diseases. But taking time out can help you protect yourself from the negative effects of stress, so that you’re healthier in body and in mind.


Simply having time away from your caring duties can help you relax and unwind but there are other ways in which respite can help you look after your own health and ease your tensions. Exercise: Physical activity can be a fantastic stressbuster, burning off stress hormones, decreasing the blood pressure and providing a welcome distraction for the tensions of the day.

Food is medicine

When we feel harassed it’s easy to grab the food we crave instead of the nutrition our bodies need. Coffee, chocolate and sugar highs rapidly dissipate, leaving our energy levels and our moods low. Take time to eat well with plenty of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats from fish, avocado and nuts and complex carbohydrates from whole grains to nourish your body instead of simply fuelling it.

A stitch in time: Make time for appointments with your GP or practice nurse. By dealing with any niggles and health concerns promptly you can prevent any problems escalating.

Seeing family and friends

A close social network of friends, neighbours and family can provide a source of emotional support, a place to vent about any irritations and a way to escape from your worries and have fun. People who stay social have been shown to suffer less from stress and the associated health issues.

Regular respite care is a little like putting your own oxygen mask on in an aeroplane, before attending to others. By taking a break and considering your own health and well-being, you will be able to stay fresh, fit and ready to care for your loved one for as long as possible.

Find out more about the range of respite care services that we offer throughout London.