July 6, 2021: Taking a Vacation from Caregiving
Have you ever had the thought: “Oh, I could never take a vacation from caring for Mom or Dad; they just need me too much…”? Or how about this one: “Nobody knows all the things I do for Dad, and they could never do everything to his strict requirements!”? Or maybe your narrative sounds something like this: “I don’t need time off; I’m strong enough, healthy enough, have enough time and energy, to do everything for Aunt Sue or Uncle Joe. I don’t need a break; I’ll be fine.”
Most family caregivers take their responsibility very seriously about caring for a loved one. In fact, they are so committed to their role that they completely buy into several myths about caregiving.
Myth #1: There’s nobody else who knows everything I know or can do what I do.
If you believe this, you risk feeling trapped for as long as you are the primary caregiver. This can lead to anger, resentment, depression, and a host of other negative emotions that can take a toll on you physically as well as mentally and spiritually. The truth is that nobody needs to know everything you know, as long as you can communicate the essentials in order to set yourself and your substitute for success.
Myth #2: There are no resources that can truly help me; I’m all alone in the responsibility of caring for Mom or Dad.
In fact, very few family caregivers are truly alone and without resources, but many don’t know what those resources are, or where to go to find them.
Your local church might be a great place to start, and from there you could check with your local Area Agency on Aging or your Department of Social Services. Home Health or Home Care agencies or your primary care physician’s office could also offer helpful information.
Myth #3: If I need time away, I’m letting my loved ones down because the family depends on me to take care of Mom or Dad.
Truthfully, you are letting everybody down if you DON’T take care of yourself so you can continue caring for others. Down time, or vacation, is restorative in nature. It gives your body and your brain time to reset, rejuvenate, and restore so you are ready to return to caregiving when your break comes to an end.
Myth #4: If I step away and entrust the care to strangers, Mom and Dad will be taken advantage of and might even be harmed.
This is the hardest myth to overcome, because there could be some truth in it. Honestly, you have to do your homework and make appropriate inquiries if you will be employing people you don’t know to provide care while you are away. Hiring someone who has been recommended by close friends who have known and used their services is certainly smarter than hiring someone who answers an ad in the paper or online, but your best bet would be to inquire with a home care agency that offers background checks, training, around-the-clock responsiveness and coverage for callouts. A reputable agency is also insured against employee theft and provides accountabilities and supervision to give you the peace of mind that you are leaving your loved ones in good hands while you take some time off.
This summer ask yourself how much you truly need a break and be honest with yourself in your answer. Start making plans for setting up coverage and getting away. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your family.
Betsy and I hope you will join us this week at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about planning your next vacation from caregiving.