I recently returned from a long weekend, across the southern California to Rosarito Beach, Mexico. It was a much-needed trip away from the day to day routine of working and caregiving. I spent a lot of time thinking, while staring at the endless waves crashing onto the shore. My thoughts turned to you, caregivers who selflessly carry out their duties without taking time to rest.
Caregivers Need Care Too!
My blog this week is to encourage you to give yourself a chance to relax. We care for our elderly parents, spouses, and children, while neglecting our own needs. I can’t emphasize enough how dangerous this is. If you become ill, who will take care of you? Who will care for the ones you care for?
Not everyone can take a quick weekend trip to the beach. Here are some things you CAN do:
- Find time to be by yourself every day. Even if it’s ten minutes hiding in the bathroom, it’s your time.
- Ask for help. Our friends and family often want to help but don’t know what to do unless we tell them. Give them a specific task: “I need you to watch Mom for an hour and a half so I can (you fill in the blank).” Whether it’s getting a pedicure, which is my favorite self-indulgence, or being able to leisurely grocery shop, it’s imperative to have your own time.
- Communicate with your loved one that you’re feeling tired. I wouldn’t use the word burn-out, as it can create guilt. Even though my mother hates it when I go away for a night or two, she understands I need to have time alone with my husband.
- Plan ahead. When you’re caregiving, spontaneity disappears, so advance planning is crucial. Keep a list of phone numbers for emergencies, as well as a list of medications, for your substitute caregiver.
- Above all, don’t be afraid to give yourself a break. Pat yourself on the back once in awhile. You are an amazing person, giving the gift of love to your aging loved one.