Need a Vacation From Caregiving? It May Be Time to Make A Senior Living Decision
When an aging loved one is in need of extra care and support, many families jump to the task themselves. With the absolute best intentions at heart, family members rearrange their work schedules, create space in their homes, and rethink their household budgets so they can give back the kindness and compassion that their relative has shown them.
Undoubtedly, this is not only admirable, but it can also be a very important opportunity for further bonding and understanding between the two of you. Often, our aging loved ones are not ready to leave their homes and families, and caregivers do not feel prepared financially or emotionally to press the issue.However, it is very important to remember that the average person is not a professional caregiver. In fact, for the most part, family members who jump in to care for older relatives typically have a full plate already. Whether they are working to put their own children through college, running their own household, or working to advance their career, it is safe to say that their attention will be significantly divided by taking on this new and demanding role. When this happens, it leads to stress.
It is perfectly natural for people in this situation to begin wishing for a break from this new job they have acquired or start looking for another way to handle this situation. What you really need is a “caregiving vacation.” You need an option that alleviates the stress from both you and your family’s lives. One of the ways to address both your stress and mixed emotions is to come up with a concrete plan which will help you make that all important senior living decision.
Letting Go of Self-Limitations
When a person steps forward and commits to being a caregiver, they also wind up committing to the idea that their own personal needs come last. This is what is known as self limitation. Often times, family members don’t even consider themselves “caregivers.” They’re just taking care of mom or dad as anyone would for their parents. However, you are, in fact, a caregiver. You’ve devoted your time to caring for the needs of your loved one and it most likely has become a very demanding and psychologically exhausting task.
When you feel that the health or mental state of your loved one is too fragile, you may find yourself rationalizing why you won't take your family on a vacation this year, why you won't pursue an advanced degree or a promotion at work, or why you will miss social gatherings on a regular basis.
It may not feel like it, but those constraints are self-imposed.
The truth is, nobody benefits from an overstressed or resentful caregiver. Wanting a vacation from the 24 hour job you have taken on does not make you a bad or a selfish person. You have your own physical and mental health to consider, and if you do not take good care of yourself, you cannot possibly take good care of a loved one. A caregiver vacation allows you to re-prioritize your own needs, and this is a very important aspect of your health.
Recruit a Family Member
Why did you first step into the role of caregiver? Was it because you felt that your other family members were too busy? Sometimes, caregivers make the mistake of assuming that because their other family members could not handle the bulk of the caregiving, that means they cannot handle any of it. This is not true.
In fact, one of the best places to look for extra help and support is your own family. Even if your other family members have full-time jobs, or young children at home, or live a bit further away, it doesn't mean that you have to take on every aspect of caregiving yourself.
Find out about sharing a caregiving schedule with family members, even if this only gives you the occasional day off. If schedule sharing is not possible or appropriate, find out if other family members would be willing to take up the role of scheduling appointments, picking up prescriptions, handling food shopping, or stopping over once in awhile to help you clean.
Explore All Options
It’s natural for you to feel guilt that you may be struggling in your new caregiving role. But you shouldn’t feel guilty! You have so many options and so many outlets to help you and your loved one. There’s no need to run yourself down trying to do everything for your family member. Look into the options available around you, and decide which is best for your loved one. Here are a few to consider.
Home care can be a great option for caregivers who still need to leave for work, school, or other obligations. Home care services can range from medical attention, to personal care, to household assistance, to simply companionship. This option is especially attractive to families who feel strongly about keeping their loved one at home.
Adult Day Care
If your loved one is able to comfortably travel out of the home, an adult daycare community might be just what they need. This care arrangement offers supervision, nutrition, socialization, rehabilitation, and transportation services.
Respite care can be looked at as a bit of a bridge between home living and assisted living. For this arrangement, your loved one will have a short stay (usually less than four weeks) in an assisted living community. Not only can this offer caregivers that all important time to de-stress and refresh themselves, but it can also introduce reluctant loved ones to the concept of assisted living in a very tangible way. In fact, after spending a bit of time in a community, their opinion may change.
Assisted living communities offer 'round-the-clock’ care for seniors. Their medical, personal, household, and transportation needs can all met in a community which you trust and feel comfortable with. Many caregivers wind up choosing the assisted living community for their loved one, so research, phone calls, and in-person tours are very helpful in narrowing down your selection.
This is also a long-term arrangement. Families choose this option when it becomes apparent that it is no longer safe or feasible for their loved one to remain at home. Their new home will become a community which offers them opportunities for quality healthcare, socializing, and learning new things.
A short or long-term rehab stay is usually required if your loved one will be recovering from an injury, surgery, or prolonged illness. Rehab centers offer more intensive medical intervention, including monitored nutrition, medication administration, physical therapy, and personal care.
If You're Ready to Try Something New
There is another option that is a bit longer than respite care, but still not a permanent living arrangement. This is a trial stay at an assisted living community. Typically, these stays will last for about 60 days, and in that time you and your loved one will have the chance to adjust to these new surroundings, and decide if they are truly the right senior living decision for your family member.
Caregivers are called upon to do so much, and many of them begin to feel overwhelmed, especially as the care requirements of their loved one increase. If you are ready to begin researching your options when it comes to senior care, please download our comprehensive free guide on the topic. The best way to prepare for this decision is to gather as much information as possible. You can begin with our guide, and continue the conversation from there.
About Chelsea Sayegh
I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.