When my friend had three little kids at home, she asked for the same gift every Mother’s Day. All she wanted was one night in a hotel all by herself to do what she wanted…read, linger over dinner, take a long shower, sleep….
The point was my friend needed a break from responsibility. After her mini-vacation, she was ready to rock again as a full-time mom, wife and worker.
Similar to my friend, family caregivers for elder loved ones need time off from shouldering enormous responsibilities. They need to rest and recover. They need to take a breather to recharge their batteries…to enjoy a respite.
According to the Multiple Schlerosis Society, a break can be anything caregivers want it to be. The most important thing is that it’s a break from the usual routine, which is a positive experience for everyone involved.
Take a respite during the holidays
Yes, the holidays are special. But let’s admit it. They can be very stressful, especially if you are the primary caregiver for a loved one who needs constant attention. On top of all the usual long list of chores, it’s not easy to find time for holiday extras such as shopping, baking and volunteering.
Family caregivers often have full-time jobs, teenagers, spouses or others who need lots of attention, too. As a result, during the holidays caregivers may abandon some of their usual personal routines such as exercise or socializing. Expectations to create a Martha Stewart or Norman Rockwell picture-perfect holiday can cause disappointment and depression. It is easy to see why thoughtful, nurturing people like family caregivers, who try to do it all for everyone else, often feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
That is why groups such as the Alzheimer’s Association underscore the importance of caregiver self care, especially during the holidays. Consider asking friends and relatives to give you a break on a regular basis. Also, contact an in-home agency to organize respite care. Again, that care could be for a few hours, a day, a weekend or longer. Caregivers need to accept and appreciate that they deserve and need their own time off.
Respite care to the rescue
In an article about the benefits of respite care during the holidays, the writers suggest family caregivers should never feel guilty about taking some time off.
This holiday season, consider hiring in-home help. You will benefit in the following four ways.
Reduce holiday-related stress.
The holidays are filled with stress such as hosting the holidays, having out-of-town family stay with you, the financial strain of buying gifts, strained family relationships and traveling. Orchestrating in-home care can help caregivers not only cope but flourish during the holidays.
Strengthen family relationships and avoid conflict.
Many caregivers may feel a mix of feelings about family relations, especially through the holidays. They may fee l resentment and frustration from lack of family members’ help or that both caregiving and the holiday entertaining falls on their weary shoulders. With in-home help, you can keep your own feelings in check and perhaps even strengthen family relationships by spending more time together with siblings. Don’t forget to ask your own family for help during the season, too!
Prevent serious complications from illness.
By taking time out for yourself, you can ensure that you are eating healthy meals, getting enough rest and spending at least some time relaxing. This will keep you healthy and enjoy the holidays. If you start to feel ill, be sure to hire in-home help right away. Not only do you need to get better, but you don’t want to expose your loved one to your sickness.
Good practice for the future.
Many caregivers simply do not take enough time out for themselves. The holiday hullabaloo simply magnifies the situation. Try to shake off the guilt and think about what your loved one would really want for you. They would want you to be happy, healthy and rested. So, family caregivers need to consider handing off some of the caregiving duties to an in-home caregiver.
Like my friend the young mother, take some time for yourself to enjoy the holiday season.