Family caregivers often worry that if they’re not taking care of their elderly family member personally, something bad is likely to happen. But that feeling of hypervigilance creates stress that tears you down as a family caregiver. Take some time away so that you can come back fresh.
Sometimes an Afternoon Here and There Doesn’t Cut It
Perhaps you’ve allowed yourself to take an afternoon off as a caregiver now and again, but eventually, that doesn’t do as much as it did before. You may find that your stressors are building up bigger than ever and you need to be gentler with yourself than you have been. That’s when taking a little time away from being a caregiver can come in handy.
Keep Track of Your Time
If you’re not already, try a little experiment with tracking your time as a caregiver. Really focus on what you’re doing and who benefits. How much of your time is spent on taking care of yourself and giving yourself a break? Probably a lot less time than you think. Caregivers often overestimate how much time they allow for themselves, which means that they actually spend far less time on themselves.
Schedule a Vacation, Even if You Don’t Go Anywhere
The next thing for you to do is to schedule a “vacation” away from caregiving, even if you don’t go anywhere at all. Set up a backup for your elderly family member so that her care is guaranteed, but step away. This might be one of the more difficult tasks that you’ve faced as a caregiver, but it’s an important one. At first, you might take only a couple of days away, but that can be enough.
Focus on How You Feel When You’re Away
Allow yourself to focus on yourself and how you’re feeling. If you’re experiencing guilt, work through that feeling knowing that this isn’t a selfish act. Take the time to journal your feelings or to talk with a friend about how you’re feeling. If you’re having difficulty working through these feelings on your own, try talking to a counselor or a therapist about what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way.
Taking some time away from caregiving allows you to come back fresher than ever. You’ve got the experience you didn’t have when you started caregiving, but you can also reclaim some of the enthusiasm you had. Taking a break is a healthy way to become a better caregiver.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering a Caregiver in Wilmette, IL, call the caring staff at LifeCare In-Home Care and Home Health Services. Call (888) 606-4199 LifeCare serves all of the Chicago Metro Area.
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