Typically, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer vacation season for most people. Everyone enjoys getting away for a few days from time to time, and summer’s long, warm days are a perfect invitation to break our routines and do something different. Schools end the academic year and give students a break, and many workplaces even practice the principle of summer shutdown for a week or two rather than managing various employees’ vacation schedules.
But for a family caregiver, the idea of a vacation may seem impossible to consider. If you find yourself feeling this way, you need to remember that we all need a break from time to time and you are no exception to that rule! Take ownership of the reality that in order to be a good family caregiver you need a vacation from time to time.
There are ways to approach taking time off that will benefit both you and the one you care for. Planning is the key. As a family caregiver, you really don’t have the option to simply decide tomorrow morning that you need to take a week off. You owe it to yourself as well as the one you care for and other family members to create a strategy that will work for everyone involved.
Most great plans begin with good conversation. Find a time and sit down with everyone involved in caring for a family member. If you need to, explain why time away would be beneficial for you as the family caregiver. Ask for support in this decision as well as help in making plans to cover the care needed while you are away. If there are no other family members that are able or willing to fill-in for you then check with local professional caregiving services to see if they offer respite care. We have written previously about the benefits of having a respite care back up plan. This might mean professional caregivers come into the home or could even involve your loved one moving into a care facility for a short stay.
Involving others, whether family and friends or a professional service, can give you the break you need and make you a better caregiver when you return.
We hope you’ll join us this week at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about taking a vacation from care!