Family caregivers are very much needed but often go underappreciated. Caregiving becomes a full-time job for many, and they are expected to do it by other family members and even the caregiver themselves. If you’re a full-time caregiver, you can probably relate. Not that you expect a round of applause for caring for your parent, but a bit of recognition and a break or two would be nice. Unfortunately, if you don’t do it for yourself, it may never happen.
Caregiving Takes an Emotional and Physical Toll
Recent statistics from the CDC report that there are roughly 34 million unpaid caregivers in the US. You are certainly not alone. And many of these caregivers are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They take on many responsibilities: a cook, a nurse, an accountant, a housekeeper, an assistant and much more. Being a caregiver can be rewarding, but it can also be stressful.
Some of the things that caregivers lack are:
● Regular doctor appointments
● Healthy snacks and meals
● Regular hours of sleep
● Time for relaxation or fun
● Companionship from friends
The solution, according to wise doctors, friends and online articles, is to take time out for yourself. You may be thinking, “Yeah right. How am I supposed to find time for myself when my parent needs me all the time?” But, the reality is that it’s possible – and necessary.
Why Breaks are Essential
Caregivers need breaks – period. If you don’t take time out for yourself, your physical, mental and emotional health will suffer, and this isn’t good for anyone. If you can’t find someone to provide you with some relief, then hire a respite care service. These services are no hassle, so it’s not like you have to explain yourself or work anything out with a sibling or cousin. Just schedule your break times as needed and leave your loved one in the care of a professional.
Some of the things you can do during your breaks are:
● Have coffee with a friend
● Go for a scenic walk
● Take up a craft or hobby
● See a movie
● Read a book
● Take a nap
● Catch up on housework
● See the doctor
In order to have the strength and energy to carry on and be a positive caregiver, you need a break. Don’t feel guilty. Do you really think that your parent intends for you to not take care of yourself because of their needs? If they could speak up more, they would probably tell you to take a break, too!