Why is it that the words “respite” and “guilt” seem to go hand in hand? Why do caregivers feel we are somehow failing our loved one by admitting that we need help, need time to recharge our batteries or just need time to play a bit? Perhaps because so many of us still hold on to the myth that says the caregiver has to be all things to all people. The truth is, that no matter how we try, we can never achieve super-duper caregiver perfection. We are human with all the same needs and feelings as every other person in our lives. And, just like everyone else we need to take time to smell the roses.
The thought of going away for even a brief time for many caregivers is fraught with fears of disaster and chaos because we are not there to oversee everything. After all, we all know that no one can replace what we do as caregivers to our family member or loved one. This belief is not so far from the truth. In fact, I still firmly believe that no one can replace the caregiver. The love and support we provide to our charge cannot be duplicated by anyone. Still, sometimes, it is OK to let someone else do the best they can for our family member so that we can take time to regroup. By so doing, we can continue to be the wonderful caregiver that we have been to date. It is a simple concept when you think about it. In using the principals of respite we will ultimately be providing the very best care to our loved one that is humanly possible.
As a caregiver, it is important that we recognize that it is OK to take a break from our caregiving duties. It is OK to feel tired, and want to have a break from caregiving! Not only is it OK, it is your right! You are allowed to stay healthy both physically and emotionally. Actually, by not doing this you are helping to create a potential problem down the road. No one can keep going day after day without a break, sooner or later it is going to catch up with you. Then, not only will you suffer but your loved one will as well. It is equally important to know that not taking that break can and often results in medical complications to the caregiver. If a medical emergency developed for the caregiver, who then will help provide the care for his or her loved one?
Ask any caregiver who has been at it for any length of time and you will learn that their own health has suffered when they failed to take proper care of themselves. Respite care is one way in which the caregiver can get this needed break and hopefully do it without that old GUILT feeling creeping in. By taking care of you, and recharging your own batteries, you are ultimately taking care of your loved one. There is no need to allow guilt into the picture. All this will do is prevent you from reaping the full rewards of a true respite.
Respite care can be anything from a few hours a week, to periods of up to two weeks or longer in some cases. It should be time enough to provide care to a loved one while the caregiver takes a break. Respite Care provides caregivers the opportunity to:
Take a vacation.
Have a weekend getaway.
Attend to home or work responsibilities that have been building up.
Recharge their energy to be better prepared to provide the attention and patience required on a daily basis.
Think about these principals to ensure your guilt-free summer respite: I am entitled to take care of myself.
I am worthy of a break.
I am showing my commitment to my caregiver role when I take steps like respite care to ensure that continued quality care is delivered to my loved one.
It is OK to relax and enjoy other aspects of my life.
It is OK to take a break and recharge my energies.
It is OK to maintain as much normality in my life as possible
It is OK to continue to dream.
If roles were reversed, there is no question I would want my loved one to have respite.
It is right and responsible of me to take advantage of respite.
So go ahead make a decision today to plan for the respite you so richly deserve and need! You will be glad you did. If you have not had a respite before, you are going to wonder what took you so long!