As a caregiver, the demands are high. Exceptionally high. A caregiver has to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There are no breaks. No vacations. No health care benefits. It’s no surprise that so many caregivers end up burnt out, and this isn’t good for anyone’s health or well being. Feeling burnt out as a caregiver puts strain on you, the person you’re caring for and friends and family in the immediate circle.

The key to preventing caregiver burnout is simple: take time for yourself. Go on vacation once in a while. Spend time doing the things you enjoy. Grab lunch with a friend. Catch up on a book. With such an easy Rx, why do so many caregivers feel guilty and selfish when they take breaks for themselves? Do you feel the same way too?

Regular Breaks are Key to Emotional and Physical Health

There is no reason to feel guilty or selfish when you take time away from caregiving. In order for you to be a good caregiver over an extended period of time, you need emotional, mental and physical strength. No one wants a caregiver who is short-tempered, tired and overburdened, which is inevitable if you skip out on your own needs.

Another consequence is that you could become resentful and bitter toward your loved one and the situation at large. This interferes with the ability to feel compassion and empathy. Bottom line: You can only be the caregiver you want to be by taking care of your health and well being.

Purpose of Respite Care

What if you don’t know where to turn? What if there is no one available to help you? Not everyone has a strong support network around them. Perhaps you are an only child, your siblings live out of state or your relationships are strained.

Respite care are intended for caregivers and can be used a few hours each week, overnight or for several days at a time. The services are flexible, so it’s easy to choose an arrangement that accommodates your schedule. Respite services are offered in the home, adult day care centers and skilled nursing facilities. Many families find that hiring in-home help is best since they don’t have to transport their loved one or uproot them from the home.

What can you do while the caregiver comes to your home? Anything you want! Go shopping, read a book or attend a support group. Your loved one will be safe and secure, and you can hit the reset button and be the caregiver that you would want for your own self.