By Peter Tourian, Special for USDR

The long, hard winter was especially rough on the elderly and the family members who took care of them. According to AARP, more than 65 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly family member. Now after being homebound thanks to one of the most relentless winters on record, family caregivers are turning to outside agencies for help in getting a Spring Break. The first day of spring starts on March 20th – not soon enough for people suffering from winter whiplash.

When Clara moved her ailing mother Gloria into her home, she didn’t realize how caregiving would take a toll on her life.Gloria, now 88, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and was forgetful and becoming a danger to herself. Clara soon realized the stress of taking care of her mom was wreaking havoc on her life and her marriage. She desperately needed a break, especially after weeks of feeling stuck in her own home because of extreme weather conditions.

“I felt guilty asking for help to take care of my mom, but something had to change,” says Clara. “Bringing in an outside caregiver has given me peace of mind. I know my mom is in good hands when I am not home. I’m less stressed out, and my relationship with my husband is much better. My caregiver also taught me some important problem solving techniques to allow me to take better care of my mother when I’m on my own.”

She turned to SYNERGY HomeCare for assistance. A caregiver now comes into Clara’s home a few days a week so she can take time for herself, whether that means working part time or watching her husband play with his band at a local club.

“Caregiving can be an isolating and sometimes thankless role. It can take a hefty toll on a person’s emotional and physical health, and even marriages,” says Rick Basch, President of SYNERGY HomeCare. “This winter was especially tough for caregivers who had to check in on elderly loved ones more than ever, to ensure they had heat, food and medicine and to keep them active and engaged during dreary winter days cooped up inside. It’s time for a much-needed Spring Break and we are a support system for these family caregivers. They need to know our caregivers are here to help and they don’t have to do it alone.”

Most Americans will become informal caregivers at some point during their lives. According to the Office of Women’s Heath, caregiver stress appears to affect women more than men. About 75 percent of caregivers who report feeling very strained emotionally, physically, or financially are women. Family caregivers also often have health problems because they are less likely to take good care of themselves.

Respite care from an outside in-home care agency is a perfect supplement. It gives family caregivers the ability to regain balance in their lives, relax and reduce stress. Hired caregivers go into the homes of the elderly to help cook, lightly clean, run errands, engage seniors in activities, take them to the doctor and the grocery store – all so the family caregiver can get a much-needed timeout – and in this case, a much-needed Spring Break. 

Contributing Writer: Peter Tourian, CEO SYNERGY HomeCare

SYNERGY HomeCare is a national franchise of non-medical home care based in Gilbert, Arizona dedicated to providing exceptional and affordable service to anyone of any age. SYNERGY HomeCare caregivers are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, to those in need -- including seniors, expectant moms, veterans, those suffering from sports injuries, debilitating illnesses, and more.  For additional information, please visit www.synergyhomecare.com.