Caregivers need to take care of themselves too
The secret to surviving long term caregiving is to pace yourself and rest when you’re tired.
Being constantly exhausted and severely stressed can lead to serious health issues and decrease your capacity to care for someone else.
But some caregivers resist the advice to take regular breaks even when they have access to help.
That’s because for some, getting help with caregiving can be more of an emotional decision than a rational one.
There can also be other roadblocks to getting caregiving help so you can take a break.
We’ve got 6 tips to make it easier to get some well-deserved breaks and take time away from caregiving.
6 ways to make it easier for caregivers to take a break
1. Accept that you’ll feel guilty
Guilt is a normal part of caregiving simply because you care – it’s never going to disappear.
Don’t let this stop you from getting the caregiving help you need.
Taking regular breaks is the best way to maintain your overall health and your ability to provide care.
Besides, how good would you feel if you never took any breaks and your health declined to the point where you could no longer care for your older adult?
It doesn’t do them any good if you’re not physically or mentally well enough to be their caregiver.
2. Don’t ask your older adult for permission
This isn’t a decision that your older adult gets to make.
Many older adults refuse outside help because they’re uncomfortable with the idea.
And someone with dementia doesn’t have the cognitive ability to make a rational decision.
When seniors refuse, they’re not thinking of your needs and are often not considering their own true needs either.
That’s why you need to make the decision, regardless of how they feel about it.
All that matters is that they’re safe and well cared for when you’re not there.
3. Start before you really need it (if possible)
It may take some time to find the right person to help and for them to learn the caregiving routines.
That’s why it’s helpful to find help before you really need it.
When you’re putting together a team of family, friends, and volunteers, it can be less stressful if you have some time to get the team in place and work out the details.
To make the transition easier, you could have someone come and shadow you until they learn the ropes and can be left alone with your older adult.
Or, you could have someone come for a short time in the beginning and gradually increase their time as everyone adjusts to the new situation.
4. Combine paid services with help from friends, family, and volunteers
Hiring caregiving help can be expensive. But even if the cost is high, maintaining or improving your health is worth it.
Being open to different sources of help also lowers the cost of taking regular breaks.
Ask family or friends for help and seek out local volunteer programs that offer companionship services.
Then supplement those hours with paid help as needed.
5. Check in to know that your older adult is well-cared-for
You might be afraid or nervous to leave your older adult with a stranger or a family member with limited experience.
To give you greater peace of mind, use simple, discreet ways to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re treating your older adult well.
You could sometimes come back early as a surprise check-in to see what’s been happening.
Or while you’re out, call occasionally to hear how things are going.
Another good move is to ask the caregiver to take notes so you’ll know what happened while you were out.
6. Be creative when introducing the hired caregiver
Nobody wants to be told that they’re getting a babysitter.
If your older adult is very resistant to outside help, be sensitive and creative when introducing them to the household.
For example, you could introduce the person as your helper around the house and have them help you with meal prep, light housekeeping, and simple care tasks.
After a few of these visits, it will seem normal that they’re around and it will be easier for you to leave to “run errands.”
You could also position it as doing that person a favor. Perhaps you could say that this person is in need of extra income, so you’re helping them out with a few hours of work here and there.
If family or friends are helping, you could say that they wanted to visit and spend some time catching up. When they become regular visitors, you can start popping out to “run errands.”
Recommended for you:
- Affordable In Home Care: 8 Ways to Lower Senior Care Costs
- When They Say No: 8 Ways to Introduce In-Home Care for Seniors
- 3 Tips to Get Peace of Mind When Using an In Home Caregiver
By DailyCaring Editorial Team