Jun 30, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of Riverside and Corona
Research has shown that approximately 38% of informal caregivers (family caregivers that go unpaid) consider their job to be emotionally strenuous.
Many think they can go on with the workload and just “get used to it,” but the truth is, working yourself too much and not coping with your emotions and physical stress can lead to depression, burnout, and even physical illness/injury.
These are all undesirable because not only do you suffer, but you also can no longer provide high quality care to your loved one.
This is why every caregiver needs to know when and how to schedule breaks for themselves. It is not a selfish thing to do; it’s actually quite necessary to recharge your caregiving batteries and make sure that you too have a high quality of life. Here’s how to go about it:
What all do you do in a day for your loved one? You may be doing it all routinely by now so it can be hard to think of things, but sit down and try to write down all of the cleaning, cooking, assisting with hygiene, medications, etc. that you do. If you can’t remember off the top of your head, go about your day normally and write things down as you go.
Be sure to list every and anything, from medical to non-medical, large tasks to small tasks. This will give you an idea of what help you will need to find for you to take your break.
Now, what are you looking for in a break? Do you simply need a few hours off to run your own errands, go grab coffee with a friend, maybe even take a nap? How about a weekend away on a trip out of town, going camping into the mountains or visiting a friend or loved one across the country?
Don’t cheat yourself – be honest about what you need and want. After all, what good is taking this break if it’s not going to give you the positivity and energy back that you need?
List out everyone you know that may be able to help you, even if it’s just for an hour. It’s good to have a list of reliable people so that even when you’re in an emergency and need someone for a short period of time, you have an idea of who can help.
Now, highlight those who may be able to help you for longer-term breaks, such as a whole evening, weekend, or more. Can other siblings help watch your mother for a few days? What about a close family friend, or even the neighbor who they’ve grown fond of? Scope out all of your options.
Also look into part-time caregivers and respite care at your local nursing home. Respite care is made exactly for this purpose: so that your loved one can have interaction and be taken care of while you take a break from your caregiving duties. In a similar vein, a caregiver can come to the home and watch them for a few hours, even overnight if you need.
Explain to your relatives and whoever else may ask that caregivers need breaks to ensure they’re focusing on their own physical and mental health, too. Also realize that this will no be your only break – you need regularly scheduled time to recharge and get away for a bit.
Again, this is not selfish, but necessary. Everyone needs a break; that’s why society doesn’t work 7 days a week, and even why some employers get mad at their employees working any overtime. You may be working around the clock as a caregiver!
Even if another sibling or your neighbor or whoever you ask can’t help with providing care to your loved one while you’re away, people may be able to help in other ways.
For example, maybe a sibling who doesn’t have time to give but does have money to spare can pay for a caregiver to come once a week for a few hours. Or, your neighbor can take your loved one to their doctor’s appointment while you go take a nap or clean the house.
When you have everything set up and it’s time for you to go away for your break, be sure to leave pertinent information to the person/facility providing care for your loved one, such as:
Now get out there and go take that trip, meet your friend for dinner, or even just enjoy some time to yourself!