This is a guest article from Jennifer Fitta at EasierLiving.
Last week, we discussed caregiver guilt as one of the top reasons for caregivers not going away on vacations. But now that you’re working on saying goodbye to the guilt, let’s discuss ways to prepare your loved ones, your caregiver “substitutes” and yourselves for your vacation. Whether you live with your loved ones or they live on their own, following these tips will help you feel relaxed and confident that all is well on the home front:
- Bring in your “substitute” caregiver early: Most caregivers have go-to family members or friends to step in while they’re away. In other cases, homecare or nursing services are used. Either way, be sure to bring in your “substitutes” before you go away. Have them spend a day (or two) with you, walk them through the daily routines and get your loved ones comfortable with their presence. I like to tell my caregiver community to write down their loved ones’ schedules for the new caregivers, walk them through it, repeat it and repeat it again. Keeping to the usual schedule will be less stressful for everyone while you’re away.
- Get your loved one used to the idea: Start talking about your trip well in advance of going. Get your loved one mentally prepared for the time you’re away (many caregivers mark their departure and return dates boldly on a calendar for their loved ones to track!) and have them used to the idea of someone else temporarily taking care of them. Over communicate where you’ll be, how long you’ll be gone and how often you’ll check in.
- Think ahead: In my first blog about traveling with your loved ones, I drove home the motto of “be prepared.” The same goes for leaving your loved ones at home. Make sure their prescriptions are refilled and they have enough for at least a week after you return home (you never know if you’ll be delayed!). If you are concerned that daily medications won’t be distributed on schedule, there are options like automatic pill dispensers that will certainly ease your worry. In addition, make sure that home healthcare supplies are stocked so that your loved ones don’t find themselves in uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations.
- Anticipate every scenario: In reality, the odds are very slim that a worst-case scenario will happen, but it never hurts to be prepared. Leave contact information for doctors, other family members/friends/neighbors and the nearest hospital or walk-in clinic (and directions to those locations). Ensure there are multiple ways to reach you (via cell, email, hotel) and leave access to some cash in case a car service or additional homecare products are needed in your absence.
- Stay in touch, but don’t go overboard: Call home while you’re away, but don’t get crazy. Every other day or, at most, once a day will suffice. Some caregivers find it best to incorporate a phone call into the schedules they have already prepared. With the options of modern technology you can still be home without being home! Long-distance caregiving is more common than you think. Remember, you need time to relax and in order to do that you have to be mentally and emotionally “present.” Enjoy your time away. You deserve it.
I’d like to thank the editors at DailyCaring.com for giving me this great opportunity to discuss caregiver travel. DailyCaring is a phenomenal resource for family caregivers and the team at EasierLiving looks forward to collaborating with them well into the future!
Thank you Jennifer! We enjoy your valuable, practical advice and are happy to be working with you to support family caregivers. —The DailyCaring team
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