This study aims to discuss the various types of respite care services available at the disposal of the caregivers and its impact, consequences and implications on their health and well-being. 1.1. Background of the problem: Dementia is a serious mental health problem associated with deterioration of the brain affecting over 700,000 million people in the UK. Statistics suggest that 1 in 100 people in the UK over the age of 65 suffer from dementia. There has been a rise in prevalence and occurrence of this disease among older people in the recent years due to the increase in life expectancy.
In accordance with the current trends it is estimated that approximately 950,000 people in UK will be diagnosed with dementia by the year 2021 (NHS, 2012). People affected with dementia are known to struggle with their memory, thinking, mental agility, and face difficulty in understanding language, as well as controlling their emotions, and lack of judgement (NHS, 2012) which affects their quality of life. As a result of such impairments the patients of dementia are forced to rely on the services of their caregivers and seek assistance for performing their routine activities.
Studies suggest that most of the patients of dementia receive care from their immediate families (Karlawish 2002; Shaji et al. , 2003). Since dementia is a chronic illness, the duration of care may extend for a longer period of time, taking a toll on the health and well-being of the carers in the process. It is hence highly likely that the carers of people with dementia may suffer from stress and various other mental and emotional setbacks. Increase in stress arises due to the constant needs of the patients for the caregiver’s care and assistance in executing day to day tasks, and the various problems encountered by them as a part of this daily ordeal.
Research indicates that the constant pressure to communicate with the patients and deal with their behavioural and emotional responses is some of the key factors adding to the stress for carers (Grant, 2003). Various studies have indicated that the stress of caring for patients of dementia and the damages caused as a result can be mitigated by provision of supportive healthcare services by the local health and social service institutions.
The lack of supportive services available at the disposal of the carers further aggravates the stress levels of the carers leading to gradual deterioration of their physical and mental health (Shaji, 2003). Similar observations have been made by other researchers who have indicated the various adverse effects of stress including complete mental breakdown of the carers, and strain in the relationship between the family members resulting in psychological distress and increased risk of morbidity for both the patients as well as the caregivers (Neueld 2003; Parks 2000).