Accepting a Break
Whether you realize it or not, when you become a caregiver you are living someone’s illness. And living it almost every waking moment. Though many caregivers feel playing this role was one of the best things they ever did for themselves and their loved one, you cannot completely sacrifice yourself in the process.
Many experts in caregiving advise that if you’ve been caring for a loved one more than a month or two it is time to consider respite care. Tell your hospice nurse that you are interested in planning for respite care. If you are worried about leaving, your hospice nurse can comfort you by giving you an honest assessment of your loved one’s condition. Do they have months, weeks, or only days left?
Respite care, in reality, is care for you – the caregiver. Respite care is short-term, temporary relief provided for those who are caring for a family member. When respite care is arranged, your loved one will be moved temporarily to a higher care facility. At Notre Dame Hospice, we offer Respite Care in our sister facilities, Chateau de Notre Dame and Wynhoven Nursing Center as well as other local long-term care facilities in the area. Respite provides the much needed, temporary break from the often exhausting challenges the family caregiver faces. Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and well-being. Without respite, families may suffer economically and emotionally, and caregivers themselves may face serious health and social risks as a result of stress associated with continuous caregiving.
Often when we’re caught up in caring for a loved one, we don’t realize the toll that it is taking on our own personal health and well-being. We lose sleep, we become too busy to eat well, often missing meals or we find ourselves eating more junk food and we forgo exercise. If friends or family are telling you that you need to take a break they most likely see the toll your role of caregiver has taken. Sometimes others can see what we can’t. And though you don’t want to be away and you take great joy in caring for your loved one, you need to take breaks.
Respite care will allow you to get some much needed time away so you can continue to fulfill your role as caregiver. Ask your hospice nurse to help you schedule a long weekend or even a week and get away. Your loved one will have the care they need and you will be able to rejuvenate. Caring for a loved one can be very fulfilling and an incredibly loving experience, but it is also extremely exhausting. Give all that you can but realize you have personal limits. Respect those limits because if you want to keep caring for your loved one, you have to take care of yourself. Respite care will allow you to do just that and your hospice team can help you make those arrangements.