Family caregivers, whether for a parent, child, another family member, or friend, often do not realize the impacts that may happen to their health and are at a higher risk of several complicated health-related issues themselves. In return, feeling burnt out can limit the quality of care that they can provide to the care recipients.

Respite Care Association of Wisconsin’s (RCAW’s) project manager, Rachel Watkins-Petersen addressed the matter, “Respite care is a critical public health intervention.  The effects of round-the-clock caregiving often lead the caregiver to feel isolated, fatigued, depressed, and anxious.  The mental health toll on primary caregivers often exacerbates physical health conditions.  Data shows that caregivers report chronic health conditions, including heart attack/heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis, at nearly twice the rate of non-caregivers.  Family caregivers must get a break from their duties, so they can rest, refresh, and recharge.”

The Health Impact on Caretakers

In 2019 the CDC studied caregivers and reported several unhealthy traits:

14.1% of caregivers reported coronary heart disease or stroke.
40.7% of caregivers reported having two or more chronic conditions.
36.7% of caregivers reported getting insufficient sleep.
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Caregiving can show its effects in several areas of life, from limiting the ability to work, social interactions outside of caregiving, mental and physical health, and proper diet and sleep. Several of these factors lead to further health decline in themselves and possibly for the care recipient. Sometimes, caregivers are so focused on the individual being cared for, that the caregiver forgets or limits the care they need themselves. This is why RCAW’s mission is to promote, support, and expand quality statewide respite across the lifespan.

How Respite Care can Help

RCAW helps caregivers and respite workers by providing FREE training courses and has grants available to help pay for respite care.  In addition, RCAW offers an online registry to connect caregivers and respite providers. Visit the Wisconsin Respite Care Registry.

If a caregiver finds themselves unable to properly care for their family member or friend, it could be  time to find additional help. Some signs to lookout for include:

  • Begin showing a short fuse or getting angry at others
  • Issues with sleeping and insomnia
  • Significant weight change
  • Physical concerns including persistent headaches, poor immune system, and chronic pain in neck or back
  • Isolation from events or activities that were previously enjoyed
In order to provide the best and proper care for someone else, it is important that a caregiver focuses on themselves in the process. For more information about RCAW providing respite care for a loved one, or other information, contact us at 608-222-2033 or email us at [email protected]

Overview of RCAW Respite Grant Programs

Updated November 01, 2023 

Dollars provided to new and existing respite care agencies to increase respite across the state
Dollars provided to family caregivers through the Group Respite Grant Program
Dollars provided to family caregivers to receive respite care through the Caregiver Respite Grant Program
Dollars provided to family caregivers through the Supplemental Respite Grant Program