Rest & Respite – The Key to Survival

Respite - Self Care for the CaregiverIt isn’t always easy to focus on caregiver self-care, but if you’re going to be caregiving over an extended period of time, taking regular breaks and arranging for respite care could end up being the key to your survival.

I recently read that more people send negative tweets the Monday after New Years than any other day of the year. The reason may be that the holidays are over and people have gone back to work feeling like they have over-indulged and over-spent.

I tried to imagine what my mother would have thought about that article. I suspect she may have said, “Oh, poor baby. You’re feeling fat and broke. My heart bleeds for you. Tell you what – I’ll go to work and to the gym for you if you’ll come to my house and take care of my husband.”

January is not June, and even young, healthy people get the winter blahs. If you’re a caregiver, spring may feel like it’s an eternity away, and without anything to look forward to, the trip from blah to depressed could be very short. Plan some outings and get them on your calendar. If you’re caring for a loved one at home, see if there is an adult day care program that would provide him/her with some socialization and give you a few hours to yourself. If your care receiver can’t get out, call your friends and relatives to see if they would be willing to come in for a morning or afternoon so you could get away. If that isn’t an option, call a home care agency. They will send someone who can provide non-medical companionship and assistance.

Caregiver self-care is not selfish. When you’re looking down the barrel of a long winter, treating yourself to something that rejuvenates your soul is essential. When you make sure you get some regular breaks for rest and respite, you will have more energy to care for your loved one. Arranging for a few hours of relief a couple times a week won’t change your care receiver’s condition. It won’t even improve the weather, but it could give you manage your stress and give you the emotional boost you need to keep going until spring arrives.