Lots of caregivers run the gamut of being afraid of respite time or even concerned that it shows them to be a bad caregiver. After all, if you were really a good caregiver, you’d be there all the time doing everything, right? That’s a great way to run yourself into the ground. You need time away and respite time is how that happens.
There’s no Set Time Limit
Respite time varies greatly, largely depending on your needs and abilities. If all you need is an hour or two to go to your doctor’s appointment, that works. If you need a full weekend, just so you can get some rest and take a true break, that works, too. You have to be able to address issues and needs in your own life if you’re going to care for your senior. To do that, you sometimes need to not be there.
There’s no Set Activity List
Another misconception is often that you can only do certain things when you’re taking respite time. And if that activity isn’t productive, then you’ve misused your respite. But the reality is that you can do whatever you need or want to do. Sometimes your respite time is going to be purely about relaxation. Other times might be about things you need or have to do.
It's not a Way for You to Give Care from Afar
Some caregivers find that they spend whatever time they have away calling or finding other ways to check in with their senior. This isn’t a way for you to still be responsible for what’s going on back in that part of your life. Everything about caregiving is going to be waiting for you when you’re “back on the clock.” Put people you trust in charge, like experienced senior care providers, and allow them to do their job. Your job right now is to care for you.
Respite is for You
The overarching message is still that respite time is something just for you. It’s about taking care of yourself and meeting your own needs, in whatever ways you need to do that. Focusing just on yourself can be scary at first, but it will pay off in you having the energy and the strength to keep going as a caregiver.
If you’ve been avoiding taking respite time because it felt like you would be lazy to take time away or you worried about feeling guilty, neither of those are accurate. Respite time is something that you need in order to keep functioning as a family caregiver.