We talk about it all the time – the tremendous responsibilities that fall on family caregivers. Caring for an elderly parent can be emotionally and physically draining. And for primary caregivers, it is often a 24/7, 365-day-a-year job. Taking any kind of break – let alone a planned vacation – seems impossible. Then when you begin to think about all the planning and preparation that is involved, you wonder if it’s even worth doing.
The thought of taking time off from your caregiving duties also brings much worry. What if Mom falls? What if she forgets to take her medication? What if she needs to get to important doctor appointments?
These are all valid questions and concerns. However, family caregivers need vacations too. It is essential that you take some time off to rejuvenate and re-energize yourself, as well as attempt to avert caregiver burnout, stress, and even poor health.
With advanced preparation, family caregivers can take vacations too!
Plan ahead. Make your plans in advance, even if you are just going away for a long weekend. Give your elderly parent ample notice that you will be gone and for how long. You don’t want to surprise them.
Determine what kind of assistance your parent will need and who will help while you’re away. If your parent is somewhat independent and doesn’t require constant care, you might only need someone to check in on them during the day, prepare a few meals or provide transportation. A sibling, friend or neighbor might be able to step in and manage this while you’re gone.
If your parent needs more care and can’t be alone overnight, ask a relative – or several family members who can share the responsibilities – to stay with them overnight.
Consider in-home care. Depending on what kind of care your parent needs, paid caregivers can assist with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, mobility, meal preparation, light housekeeping or transportation. They are trained to provide constant quality care in a variety of situations.
In addition to Companion Care and Personal Care services, FirstLight also offers 24-hour home care by providing a selection of personal emergency response system (PERS) devices along with our secure, Web-based care monitoring tool called Client Care Access. Our in-home caregivers are available at any hour, and together with our technology, we provide round-the-clock peace of mind to clients and their families.
If you plan to hire a caregiver, be sure that he or she is a good match for your parent and his or her needs. Spend time allowing your loved one and the caregiver to get to know each other and become comfortable with one another. At FIrstLight, we know that we are caring for families in sometimes challenging situations. Our respite care services can offer much-needed time off.
Organize important information. Compile all important information into one folder or binder so that the person who is providing care has everything they need while you are away. This should include:
- All possible emergency contacts
- A list of your parent’s health care providers, including phone numbers and addresses
- Your parent’s preferred hospital and their pharmacy
- Their medical, dental and vision insurance cards
- A list of all medications and the schedule in which they are to be taken.
- Important documents, including power of attorney, living will, advance directives, and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders.
Let go of the guilt. It’s natural to feel guilty about taking respite, and it’s normal to think that no one else could take care of your parent the way you can. Additionally, your loved one might not like the idea of you taking a vacation at all, which can make it even harder for you to get away.
But family caregivers need vacations. Taking a break from caregiving duties is a necessity, especially for your own health and well-being. And, getting the right help can provide the peace of mind you need. For winter vacation inspiration, check out this list of Best Places to Visit in January.
What are some tips you can offer when it comes to taking a vacation from family caregiving duties? Comment here or join the conversation on our Facebook page.
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