Summer is quickly approaching and for many, the longing for a vacation is in the air. But the idea of taking time off can be daunting for the 40+ million family caregivers who support and aid a loved one with everyday needs.
As a caregiver, a summer holiday getaway may not seem possible, especially if it means leaving your elderly loved one alone in their home. Worrying about their safety while you are away can make it difficult for you to relax and enjoy your well-deserved, and most likely needed, vacation.
Caring for a parent or grandparent can be challenging and respite care is important in order for you to continue to deliver quality care. We want you to enjoy your summer travels, so we have put together four family caregiver tips to help ensure everything goes smoothly – for everyone – while you’re away.
Find Alternative Care
Before you make travel plans, it will be important for you to find a friend or family member who can step in while you’re away. If this is not a viable option, you also can hire a professional caregiver who will stay during the day, night, or both. A local FirstLight caregiver can be there to support your loved one while you enjoy your vacation.
Provide Clear Caregiving Direction
When it comes to the daily activities, medication, appointments, diet and exercise your loved one will need and expect while you’re gone, be very clear with family, friends or the professional caregiver that will be on hand. Gather all the important information and documents – physicians’ numbers, therapy services, preferred hospitals, medications, and other information – for your alternative caregiver, and keep them in one safe place. Creating a detailed plan with a list of emergency contacts, as well as key legal documents (Advance Directive or Power of Attorney) will keep everything in order and reduce your stress.
Deal with Anxiety and Guilt
Feeling anxiety and guilt about leaving the loved one in your care with someone else is going to happen. You need to learn to come to terms with it and then move forward. The family caregiver has the right to take time off, however, it is during this time that anxious feelings may occur. Don’t ignore them. Plan for them. Start with smaller trips, a day or weekend getaway, and then move on to longer trips to be able to cope with guilty feelings and overcome your anxiety.
Recognize the Benefits of Respite Care
Rarely having a break from being the family caregiver is harmful to your health. Prolonged exposure to stressful situations can leave caregivers more vulnerable to developing health issues. It can raise blood pressure, lower the strength of your immune system, and lead to long-term diseases like heart disease or stroke. Taking a few days (or weeks) for yourself will help you be a better caregiver overall. It will allow you to take care of your personal needs, focus on you, and regroup on your own goals like eating right and making sure you’re fitting in regular exercise. A vacation will help you get re-energized.
What are your tips for taking a stress-free vacation? Comment here on this post and keep the conversation going.
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We are proud to CHAMPION the family caregiver, offering empathy, advice, and support for those who provide countless hours of care to their loved ones. We want to provide a helping hand, relieve some of the stress that comes with caregiving and give you back a few hours in your overwhelmingly busy day.