Now that September is right around the corner (believe it or not!), it’s time to start making your list of those people you know you can count on to pitch in and support your respite program this fall. Let them in on your plan and see what they will commit to doing. It can be anything from cooking dinner one day a week to watching your loved one while you go to the park. You’ll be surprised at how little favors add up and how willing people are to help once you ask.
Remember, respite does not have to be found outside of the home or take the entire day. Having someone watch your loved one for a few hours while you luxuriate in a long hot bubble bath counts, too.
Accept the help others offer. Suggest specific things they can do for you and your loved one. This is rule #1 for a reason. No one is a superhero. Don’t feel like you’re the only one that can take dad to the doctor or your wife to her physical therapist. REACH OUT and ask another family member — or close family friend — to assist you occasionally so you have time to yourself. Trust in their willingness to help. Many times, they do not know how to reach out and help unless you are able to communicate your needs.
Ask for and accept favors such as; a friend staying with your loved one while you are able to get out of the house for a while, a dinner being cooked for you and your loved one once a week, an offer to go to the supermarket or drugstore in your place. Respite can be achieved on a daily basis with the smallest of kindnesses.
Know your limits! If you wear yourself out caring for your loved one, who will step in to care for the both of you? Remember, caring for yourself is not selfish, it’s the greatest gift you can give your loved one.
by Gary Barg, Editor-in-Chief of Today’s Caregiver (reprinted with permission)
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