Being the caregiver for a senior parent isn’t easy.
But taking a break doesn’t have to be hard!
You love your parent and respect them so much. When it came time for you to take a more prominent role in their care, you stepped up, no questions asked. You get up early. You do the little things and the big things. You go to bed late, after visiting hours are over. You make the doctor visits. You ride out the bad days and you relish the good days. It’s not something you ever thought about doing. But, that new role is yours. And, it’s taking its toll.
The guilt of wanting some stress relief is the hardest part. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right that as your parent is struggling with daily activities, you are taking time to reconnect with what makes you happy. But, it’s okay. In fact, more than that, it’s necessary. If you are going to be at your best, you need some time to remember who you are and what makes you smile. Here are 5 tips to help caregivers take a break:
1. Take a break BEFORE you get burnt out!
Some wait until they are already in the throws of a breakdown before they take a moment for themselves. Look around. If your house looks like a tornado ran through it, it could be a sign that you are neglecting yourself and giving up on having an independent life. If you aren’t sleeping or eating, these are signs, too. Don’t wait until you are in the middle of a depression or a nervous breakdown to take time. Even if you think you can go further or do more, take a break. You might not realize you need a break, but you probably do!
2. Lean on others.
Sometimes families find issues with each other because one sibling is deemed “the caretaker” and the other siblings either feel left out or jealous or they are called out for not doing enough. You probably don’t need to go to the facility together every day and, in fact, that might be too much for your parent to handle. So, give that sibling an opportunity to help out by giving you a little break. This break doesn’t even have to be taking care of Mom or Dad for the day. Maybe they can make you dinner. Perhaps they can find a night to take in a movie. Lean on your family and friends. More often than not, they want to help, but they may not know how. Give them some ideas.
3. Do this OFTEN.
Taking a break isn’t a one-time thing. It’s not a “put it off until it’s easier” thing. Schedule it. Plan on it. Make it a priority. You can’t be the best caregiver you can be unless you feel 100%. It’s important for you to take breaks and find your rest.
4. Talk to your parent about the break.
Sometimes the guilt you feel about taking breaks is one-sided. What would you say if we told you that your parent might want a break, too! Maybe they would like a day without feeling “supervised” by their adult child. On the other hand, if your parent is reluctant to spend time without you, they might need it and not even know it. Communication eases those guilty feelings. Talk about the respite, let your parent know that you will be back in action like normal, you just need a day to catch up on some things. You might be surprised by the reaction you receive.
5. It doesn’t have to be a huge vacation.
Yes, Tahiti sounds lovely. But Calgon can take you away too! You don’t have to take a vacation, you can escape to a bath. You can read a book. You can binge watch Netflix. Watch a ball game. Call up an old friend and meet up for a coffee. You don’t have to abandon your post for long, but you need to vacate it for a little bit to recalibrate. It’s easier to plan a mini-break rather than a huge trip. Think small and it will pay off big.
McGregor gets it. Whether your parent is in our PACE program or a full-time resident, the burden looms large for caregivers. Take a break. Know they are in good hands while they are in our care. If you need some advice or just want to know more about what’s available for your parent, contact us today. We are ready to help!