You’ve been balancing your job and your kids with your senior loved one’s caregiving needs and you’re just so tired. It’s hard staying on top of everything all the time, but it’s worse knowing that, unlike a typical paid full-time job, there are no paid vacation days in your future. This work is needed every day, without fail.
Everybody needs a break. If you feel like you’re trapped in the same cycle of caregiving work every day without a respite in sight, know that there is a way to take time off. Look into respite care.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is the term used to describe any type of temporary care that allows a family primary caregiver to take a break. There are a number of different types of respite care available that can provide level of care your loved one needs in your absence, so you can get that well needed break you both deserve and need.
Why Tired Caregivers Need Respite Care
For some caregivers, the biggest obstacle to using respite care isn’t a lack of available options, it’s your own brain. If the idea of letting go of some of your responsibilities for a few days to let someone else take them on makes you feel guilty – like you’re failing your loved one (or yourself) – that type of thinking may be doing actual harm to you.
Taking a break with the help of respite care isn’t selfish. It provides significant benefits both to you and your loved one. Here are five compelling reasons for you to go ahead and take that break.
- The stress you’re feeling now is bad for your health.
Nobody likes being stressed out, but it’s not just an unpleasant feeling we have to deal with. Stress causes a number of serious health problems. If you’re too stressed out for too long, it can contribute to a weakened immune system as you age and an increased risk of heart disease.
In The Caregiving Trap, Pamela Wilson describes a familiar cycle she sees of people working themselves ragged and experiencing high levels of stress to take care of their aging parents, only to bring on health problems sooner for themselves and need a primary caregiver earlier in life than they may have otherwise.
You see, all that stress you’re carrying around is not just about you. Your loved ones all want you around and healthy for longer, which makes that break you’ve been denying yourself all the more important for you take.
- You’ll provide better care once you’ve had a break.
When work just seems to build day after day, it gets harder and harder to handle it with the same level of focus and competence. That’s normal. When you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed, tasks that should be simple become far more difficult.
That’s why workplaces put a cap on the number of hours employees work in a day and week. No matter the type of work you do, your ability to do it suffers when you’re overworked. That’s no less the case when the type of work you do is caregiving than if you were working in an office. To continue to effectively provide the loving care you do each day for the long term, you’ve got to work some breaks in, or you’ll start to find little tasks and details slipping.
- It can defuse building tensions.
It might not be something you admit to other people, but when so much of your life becomes wrapped up in providing care for a loved one, it’s hard to keep feelings of frustration and resentment towards them at bay.
Do you have moments of getting mad at your loved one – even when they haven’t done anything wrong? Or days where the frustration of all you have to do just boils to the surface and you have a hard time continuing to do it all with the grace you feel like you’re supposed to have?
Don’t let that just keep building. It’s bad for both of you. A few days away from each other can wipe the slate clean of that building tension and let you get back to a healthier version of your relationship with your loved one.
- You get the chance to remember what’s valuable about your relationship.
When your loved one becomes a job, it can be hard some days to remember that they’re also your loved one. You can forget – if only briefly – how meaningful and valuable their company is to you. Instead of spending quality time together, it becomes all about the (exhausting) tasks you have to do to take care of them.
But they are your loved one. And their company is valuable to you. A few days away from the distraction of all the caregiving work you take on can help you remember what you love about the person you care for, so you come back to them ready to re-connect.
- You can get the rest you really need.
You need time to rest and relax. Everyone does. Not just for your health, not just for the sake of your relationship with your loved one, also just for you. Using respite care to take a break isn’t selfish, but that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with wanting to do it for yourself as much as for all these other reasons. It’s ok to want a few days for yourself.
Don’t feel guilty for wanting a break.
The most important takeaway from this post is that any shame you may feel at considering respite care should be squashed. Giving yourself a break isn’t just good for you, it’s good for everyone involved. But importantly, it’s also good for you and you deserve it.
Find Respite Care
If you want to learn more about the senior care options in your area that may offer respite care, you can find details and reviews by searching on Senior Advisor. A little bit of research and planning and that vacation you’ve been dreaming of will be within your reach.