According to research by Dyches, et al., (2016), 122 single mothers of children with autistic spectrum disorder were asked to complete questionnaires concerning respite care, daily hassles/uplifts, depression, and caregiver burden. More than half (59.8%) accessed respite care, which was provided for 1 hour per day, often by multiple sources (41%), such as grandparents and community agencies; most were satisfied with this care. The study found that most mothers (77%) were at risk for clinical depression.
One aspect that deserves attention is the case of caregiver fatigue, which can contribute to negative health outcomes and a decrease in caregiver health. Respite is an invaluable resource for caregivers experiencing high levels of stress from the burden that is associated with their duties. Respite care provides the primary family caregiver with reliable care options while they engage in self-care and tend to other family, social and community roles that are needed to help maintain friendships, social activities and balance in one’s life. Respite care also functions to enrich a family’s general wellbeing and stability and nurses on the front line of family care can understand the impact of caregiver fatigue. A reduction in burden and depression as well as improvements in reported health problems is often reported by caregivers who use respite (Arksey, et al, 2004).
While uplifts were negatively correlated with depression, hassles and caregiver burden were positively correlated with depression. Respite care was positively related to daily uplifts, and uplifts mediated the relationship between respite care and depression. (Dyches TT, Christensen R, Harper JM, Mandleco B, Roper SO, 2016).
Another study by Jiska C., et al. (2010) on use of stimuli to improve rate of health recovery among those receiving respite care (with symptoms of agitation) took into account pharmacological intervention approach which posits that medication can be an effective treatment for agitation, but the level of effectiveness is moderate at best, and the potential for side effects are substantial. (Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman, 2010).
In contrast, studies have shown that non-pharmacological interventions can be effective in decreasing agitation without the risk of the potential side-effects of medication, while simultaneously address the underlying unmet needs of the older person. (Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman, 2010)
As most nursing home residents spend much of their time unoccupied, a significant portion of their agitation is attributable to unmet needs related to boredom and confusion. Consequently, many non-pharmacological interventions offer a wide variety of ways to engage older persons with dementia and provide them with enjoyable ways to pass the time. (Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman, 2010)
Music has shown positive effects in decreasing agitation. These studies found that music successfully reduced aggressive and negative behaviours’ in various settings and during specific activities, such as bathing and mealtimes. Additionally, music therapy, which included singing, playing instruments, and dancing, was reported to result in a significant decrease in agitation. (Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman, 2010).
Music is a highly versatile and dynamic therapeutic modality, lending itself to a variety of music therapy techniques used to benefit both those living with life-threatening illnesses and their family members as well as their care givers. (O’Kelly J. , 2002). It has the ability to take someone back in time, evoke memories and feelings from the past. Hearing and singing along a familiar tune can offer comfort and cheer during times of sadness, and can even turn a bad mood around almost instantly. (Music Therapy for Seniors, 2014).