6 Ways to Make It Easier for Caregivers to Take a Break

6 tips make it easier for caregivers to take some well-deserved breaks

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.

Many caregivers feel guilty about stepping away, even for a short time, or feel uncomfortable bringing a stranger into the house.

There can also be other roadblocks to getting caregiving help so you can take a break.

Most often, those are the older adult’s denial that they need help, unhelpful family members, or financial issues.

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. 

A careful approach is especially important to prevent seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia from reacting with fear or anxiety.

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.”


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


  • Reply January 8, 2021


    We live out of state from my 90 year old mother in law. Other than dementia and slowly declining mobility she is in good health and feels good. She only trusts and allows her neighbor to help her. Her angel neighbor is 80 years old and the increasing demands are getting to be to much for her. We tried hiring a service to come in for a few hours a day, a few days a week (with her neighbor introducing them as helping her) with the added demands. When the neighbor showed up at our mother in laws house with the helper, our mother in law screamed at her neighbor and wouldn’t let either of them in her house. She keeps claiming she doesn’t need anyone or anything, (including the help from her neighbor) that she can do it all herself. She still drives herself every week to get her hair done, and the neighbor is trying to do more of her shopping so she has no reason to drive. The neighbor has even offered to drive her anytime she wants, but she wants to go alone. She likes the attention from the store employees, as they cater to her and even bring the electric cart out to her when they see her car. (She has lived in her home over 55 years) She finds a reason to have to go because she says she always runs into someone she know. Before co vid she used to go out to play Bingo 3 Xs a week, however she never was comfortable inviting anyone into her home. Any other suggestions to try would be welcome. Thank you.

  • Reply January 10, 2019


    Not all care givers are taking care of their senior. Many are taking care of a spouse who have physical limitations along with beginning dementia. And some are taking care of a child with limitations.

    • Reply January 10, 2019


      Very true, a caregiver could be caring for anyone who needs help with the tasks of everyday life. Our site is focused on topics that are relevant to those who are caring for an older adult. The older adult could be a parent, spouse, relative, or friend. Some of the tips and advice can also be helpful in situations where people are caring for someone who isn’t an older adult.

    • Reply July 18, 2019

      gloria solomon

      I am a full time carer for my 77 yr old brother who has a multitude of health issues including vascular dementia he is doubly incontinent he can’t be left alone for a single moment as he has choking fits and gets up to all sorts of mischief like emptying his clothes drawers and getting ready “for work” at 4in the morning while trying to get out of our flat,he has carers for half an hour every morning for half an hour to shower him and he pays the full hourly rate for them even though social services/adult care are meant to be paying up to 7k a year for his care,which we have never received or have any clue about what they are or arent doing with this money,I havent had a day off for years and even have to shop online as I barely ever leave the flat,social services have been worse than useless and cause so much worry and stress with their incompetence I dread getting in touch with them as they mess up everything,sometimes I get so sick of the sight of these 4 walls I could scream the last time I tried respite for him he had a week in a home that social services chose,he came home unwashed,unshaved,he hadnt been changed and had urine burns so bad they took 6 months to clear up,they also lost all of his labelled clothes,even a complaint to the CQC got swept under the carpet and I felt awful for letting him go,thankfully although it took over 2 yrs the CQC finally woke up and shut the place down,I need a break but dread the outcome again and will feel guilty if he comes home in the same state as before Im at the end of my tether right now

      • Reply July 22, 2019


        I’m so sorry to hear that the social services in your area haven’t been helpful. It’s unfortunate that you have to work so hard to get help from these agencies.

        It’s terrible that the last respite experience was so poor. Since you clearly need and deserve a break, perhaps you could ask which care community is used for respite and research it ahead of time to find out if the quality of their care is good before having your brother stay there. Or, if it’s possible, consider increasing the hours for the carers that are currently coming during the day.

        And even though it’s been difficult to work with your social services agency, it may be worthwhile to give them a call every now and then to see if there are different staff available who may be able to provide better help.

        In case it’s helpful, we’ve got an article about taking breaks when you can’t get away — https://dailycaring.com/10-ways-caregivers-can-take-a-quick-break-right-now/

      • Reply June 30, 2021


        I’ve been taking care of my significant other for 25. Years.
        She has MS.
        This has not been an easy task for myself and other helpers over the years of with her health care.
        No one could never understand unless you live it.
        My personal key to this as a personal care giver, is to not ever dwell on anything, I didn’t say that it’s easy,, but it sure helps to stay mentally focused.
        Her progression with her illness is what comes along with a long time care job.

        • Reply July 1, 2021


          Thank you for sharing your story and insights. Caregiving is indeed a challenging role, especially over so many years.

  • Reply August 3, 2018

    Pat Flockhart

    I feel guilty because it’s not fair my loved one has lbd. They didn’t ask for lbd and leaving my loved one is unfair, seems like punishment and abandonment while I go relax or have fun. Can you speak to this topic?

    • Reply August 3, 2018


      Feeling guilty for taking breaks is a common theme among caregivers. It’s not fair that someone you care about is living with a disease that limits what they can do. But that doesn’t mean that you should punish yourself by denying yourself even a little bit of a life outside of caregiving.

      If you don’t take a little time to relax, recharge, and focus on yourself, you’re highly likely to burn out completely or develop your own serious health issues. None of that is helpful to long term caregiving.

      In fact, the only way to be a healthy and balanced caregiver over the long term is to find ways to take regular breaks. Nobody can be on call 24/7 for years and not be negatively affected by the stress, exhaustion, and frustration. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but enough to keep you as mentally and physically well as possible.

      We’ve got a few articles to help you understand and manage these guilty feelings so it’s easier to get the rest you need to keep going as an amazing caregiver:
      — 5 Tips for Dealing with Caregiver Guilt in Dementia Care https://dailycaring.com/5-tips-for-dealing-with-caregiver-guilt-in-dementia-care/
      — 5 Expert Tips for Reducing Caregiver Guilt https://dailycaring.com/5-expert-tips-for-reducing-caregiver-guilt/
      — 7 Ways of Dealing with Caregiver Guilt That Improve Health https://dailycaring.com/7-ways-of-dealing-with-caregiver-guilt-that-improve-health/

  • Reply May 23, 2018

    Anuya Joshi

    This session was really helpful. It help me understand my guilt and later how to keep watch on hires person.

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