Doesn’t the idea of respite sound glorious? Maybe a few days on the beach to help de-stress our mind. Or we could take a cruise to someplace warm and relaxing. What about a wine-tasting trip where we don’t have to worry about medication times or bathroom breaks or early dinners? Heck, who needs excursions? We can sleep all day!
While all that sounds absolutely inviting and invigorating it is not always possible for caregivers to get away for a respite. Respite care can be too expensive or just downright unavailable for our loved one. However, as caregivers, we do need to take breaks or our mental health (and oftentimes our physical health) will suffer. How do we resolve this dilemma?
It may not be a day at the beach or a weekend of wine-tasting but respite can be created at home. Of course, we will still be responsible for our caregiving duties but there are ways to rejuvenate without leaving the house! These are just a few of the respite tips from the book 365 Caregiving Tips: Travel and Respite, Practical Tips from Everyday Caregivers which can give you a little breather.
- Create Your Own Corner. Find a room, a corner, a space that is just for you. Use this space for whatever hobby you may enjoy or just for relaxing, reading or just taking a moment for yourself. Set out your books or artwork, yarn or puzzles so they are ready when you can take some time for you. Add a few personal touches that will relax you just by looking at them (a few photos or scented candles, for example).
- Make Time for You. Ask a family member or friend to stay with your loved one for a couple of hours. Even if no one can do the things you do it might be possible to have someone stay when your loved one is napping or in bed for the night. They won’t have to do anything unless there is an emergency! Take the time to go out to dinner, see a movie or get a pedicure. You can even just go to a park or for a drive.
- Do Something Different. It might sound silly but you can get the benefit of respite by mixing things up a little bit. It is easy (and usually preferable) to have a great routine with your loved one. Every now and then, take a day and do something different such as taking your loved one to a movie or out to eat. Even getting outside and going for a walk can be refreshing for both the caregiver and the loved one.
- Take a Day Off Work. Working caregivers often only take time off work for doctor appointments or emergencies. Consider taking a day off while your loved one goes to a day program. Do something just for you (and save the errands for another day)!
- Dream a Little. It is okay to plan for the future. Take a few minutes when the day has gone all kinds of wrong and the stress is getting to be too much.Sit down in the space you created for yourself and write your goals for the future – even if they might seem impossible! Would you like to see the aurora borealis? (Okay, that’s my dream but you can have it too!)Write it down. Look up images on the computer. Enjoy the northern lights right now!
- Do Yardwork. This may not sound relaxing to some people but others love to garden or dig in the dirt and work with the plants. Go outside for just a few minutes (even with your loved one) and smell the fresh air and look at the flowers. Pick the berries off the berry bush you never seem to be able to tend to. If you don’t have the energy for a full garden any longer then consider starting an herb garden!
- Treat Yourself to a Treat. Do you ever buy yourself chocolates or chocolate covered strawberries? Of course not! Ooh, but how much fun would it be to do just that? You would probably have a treat if you were on a week-long respite so why not treat yourself when you are creating respite at home!
It may take a bit to get ourselves in a respite frame of mind but even if you cannot physically leave your loved one there are ways to care for ourselves. These at home self-care refreshers will help keep our souls happy, our minds at peace and our health intact (well, as long as we don’t over-indulge in that treat tip!).
By: Trish Hughes Kreis