Overnight care can help you to get a good night's sleep when you would otherwise be worried about the welfare of your loved one.
Why get overnight care?
Caring for a loved one is hard at the best of times, but what about when you go to sleep? Elderly people can be restless at night as they may need to use the bathroom, and if they have dementia then the early hours are prime time for wandering. This can cause concern that may affect your ability to get a good night's sleep. Sleep is important. It's what allows your body to recuperate from a day of activity, and your mind to rest from stress. Without sleep, you may be irritable and lethargic at first, but if it continues you can be setting yourself up for illness and depression. Hiring an overnight carer can help you to relax and get the rest you need so that you can face the next day fully rejuvenated.
What is an overnight carer?
There are various options when it comes to overnight care. You could hire a full-time live in carer, for example, but that’s not your only option. In fact, many people find their elderly relative is fine to live mostly independently during the day, but those nighttime hours are still a real concern. In these instances, it might be more appropriate to hire a specialist overnight carer to supplement a casual daytime carer. Often people will build a relationship with two carers – someone who comes during the day, and someone who stays overnight. You could hire an overnight carer who sleeps in your home (sleeping night care) or many overnight carers will be on duty throughout the night (waking night care) so as to provide support if your loved one wakes.
What does overnight care offer?
Overnight care can seem daunting at first, especially since the nighttime hours tend to be ones in which we most value our privacy. However, when your loved one can no longer get a good night’s sleep, an overnight carer be an ideal solution for all concerned.
It sounds obvious, but the biggest advantage of an overnight carer is that they provide overnight support. It’s well documented that older people experience higher levels of sleep fragmentation, meaning they wake-up more frequently in the night. Hiring an overnight carer means someone will be there to support your loved one when they wake, whether in pain, disorientated, or simply wanting to use the bathroom.
Peace of mind
Even if your loved one doesn’t suffer from any debilitating illness or condition, many older people lose confidence sleeping at night – anxious about waking up and needing help, and being alone. Having an overnight carer in place can give your relative the confidence to sleep soundly, simply knowing that someone is there and can provide care if needed.
Your peace of mind
The burden of an elderly relative is no small thing, emotionally speaking, and the benefits of hiring an overnight carer apply to you too. Relief from anxiety, fear and guilt will mean you can sleep soundly, knowing your loved one is safe and secure.
Better overall health
Not getting enough sleep can have serious health implications at any age, but as we get older there are certain problems that lack of sleep quickly exacerbates. Irritability, forgetfulness, clumsiness, aches and pains, headaches, loss of concentration – the list goes on, and on. An overnight carer can also help to ensure that your loved one gets a better night’s sleep, which in turn has a positive impact on their general health.
In many cases, an overnight carer can make the difference between being able to stay at home, and having to move away from a home. The majority of older people fear losing their independence, and hiring a carer through the night can mean retaining that independence for longer.
If you hire an overnight carer, you have one-on-one support from a single person, who you can build a relationship with over time. The care you receive will be more bespoke than you’d likely find in an external care environment, better tailored to your exact needs.
There aren’t many disadvantages to hiring an overnight carer, but there are a couple.
Loss of privacy
Having someone in the home can take some getting used to, and this is somehow more the case at night. Most people associate nighttime with vulnerability and privacy – having someone around during those hours can be strange at first.
This isn’t so much a disadvantage as a limitation, but if you want to hire a carer who sleeps through the night, you’ll need to be able to provide an extra bed. For some people this simply isn’t possible, and that can rule out having an overnight carer.
As you’d expect, there is a cost attached to hiring an overnight carer. We’ve looked at the price of home care before in detail, but you should expect to pay more for someone to provide overnight care. All in all, an overnight carer is a valuable solution for many – but only you can know if it’s right for you and your loved one. Don’t feel backed into a corner: whatever your care needs are, there are different options out there to explore.
If your overnight carer is a waking carer, then you won’t need more than you…
Dr Jamie Wilson
Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Hometouch
Dr Jamie Wilson is hometouch’s founder and Chief Medical Officer. Jamie’s creation of hometouch was inspired by his work as a dementia psychiatrist in the NHS, and he has written about healthcare issues in The Times and the Evening Standard. Jamie has a MBBS from the University of Leeds and has spent a decade in the NHS, working as a Psychiatric Registrar and Memory Specialist at Imperial College Hospital.