If you’re like most people, you aren’t eager to spend time thinking about what would happen if you became unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or advanced age. However, if you don’t do at least a little bit of planning — writing down your wishes about the kinds of […]
Caring for an elderly member of your family is a huge responsibility that very few people actually take on today. It is to be commended for so many reasons, especially when you consider just how much caregivers do give up to dedicate themselves to their family. When you do accept the task of looking after an individual family member who is no longer capable of taking care of his or herself, the key element to remember is that you have no idea just how long that commitment will be. It could be months, it could be years, but either way you will be mentally exhausted and close to burnout within a few weeks of beginning your role as primary caregiver.
The role of primary caregiver is an all consuming one that will quickly take over your life. There is no way to avoid this and, despite all of your best efforts, it is unavoidable. The problem is that you will find it difficult to actually switch off and thus will find it essential to rest every now and again, whether that means getting away for a few days or taking a break within your own home. Either way, just like an ordinary full time job, you will need to recharge your batteries because they will get very low very quickly.
Before you can think about when you will take a break, you must make arrangements to have your elderly relative taken care of in your absence. There are a few options when it comes to this element of your own personal care. The first is respite placements in a retirement home. Many homes actually reserve rooms solely for respite cases in order for families to have a rest from the constant demands that are placed upon them. You can view the home in question before booking a place, and all of the homes with this specific facility will be listed at the local authority offices in your area as well as being available via search facilities on the Internet.
Another option is getting home help or home care in for the time that you are away or taking a break. Home help will visit up to three times a day for approximately an hour to wash, dress and feed your relative. However, they will not remain with them round the clock. Another version of this is home care, which means that your relative will have someone there for a longer period of time but again not at his or her beck and call around the clock. If you spend a lot of time with your relative then this not be the best option to give you peace of mind, and of course it all depends on how able your relative is to begin with.
The final option is actually getting another member of your family to help out for a few days, just to relieve you of your duties for the time being. It would possibly be easier to hand over the reigns because there would be less chance that they could not be brought up to speed with developments and routines. You could also reach them at a moment’s notice and have peace of mind that your elderly relative was being cared for. This is all dependent on getting a volunteer at all, let alone one that you could trust with that task.
Of course, you could always combine two or more of these options if it was financially viable for you to do so. However, money is often no object where the welfare of a family member is concerned. The choice is yours, but for your own health you must take a break as often as you possibly can in order to remain mentally functional. Burnout is no good for you or for the relative whose welfare is in your hands. As primary caregiver, you owe it to your family to take a break.