My definition of respite: Time away from regular caregiving duties that gives you a much deserved break, and helps you regain strength.
It is normal for a caregiver to have LOTS on their mind. Lists of phone calls they need to make; upcoming appointments for a loved one; worries about house maintenance or finances; the busyness of preparing meals and keeping the house organized.
All of this can be stressful and tiring, even when you are supporting a parent or spouse out of a sincere desire to be there for them … even when you truly love this person and feel positive about your ability to manage all that needs to be done.
Whether your care partner lives with you or elsewhere, it’s essential that you sometimes get a break. For your mental well-being and peace of mind, it is helpful to have your loved one looked after by professional care staff for a few days every so often.
Booking them into overnight respite allows you to focus on other parts of your life, such as following your own career dreams, spending time with friends, going to doctor’s appointments and tending to your own health, or simply having a bit of time to unwind and not respond to someone else’s needs.
“To be self-nurturing is to have the courage to pay attention to your needs”
4 positive effects of accessing respite:
You are giving yourself permission to be off-duty for a couple days. This is a healthy choice to make. Your system will have a chance to slow down and relax a little bit, without being on high alert towards the other person’s care needs. You are not selfish for needing some time away- you are choosing to act in a loving way towards yourself.
What do I need permission to do right now?
This is an opportunity for you to re-connect with activities you enjoy doing. You may have become too tired or stretched for time, and lost track of what makes you feel energized and happy. Take this chance to remember who YOU are, without the caretaking role.
What makes you smile? Think about an activity you can you re-introduce into your life a couple times per week, even for 10 minutes.
While you may have many sweet, meaningful or lighthearted moments with your spouse or parent during a usual week, you likely have some frustrating or exhausting ones as well. When you book the time off, you regain simplicity in daily routines, living your days according to what you want or need to be doing- if even for a short while.
I invite you to notice whether your schedule is feeling too hectic. Think of 1 task you can delegate that will make your life less strenuous.
Change of scene.
Even though your family member might not be thrilled to try respite out, they’re likely to have lots of great experiences. They will probably make some connections with staff or residents of the facility. This can really boost one’s self-esteem and enliven the spirits. There will be social events on the go, such as afternoon tea or happy hour. Groups of residents will gather to talk about current events, or listen to live music that gets their feet tapping. A few days around other people can be a marvelous antidote to isolation and loneliness.
For details on overnight respite options in North and West Vancouver, call or stop by our office at Capilano Mall, suite 201. We have brochures on local care facilities (both public and private options), recreation programs, and meal delivery services. Our staff and volunteers are happy to chat it through, and seeing a friendly face doesn’t hurt either! www.nscr.bc.ca
Some people feel guilty when they book their family member into overnight respite. This emotion is one that can be lessened or worked through with the support of good friends, a therapist, or a bit of self-inspired reading.
Here are a few books and articles to get you started:
Escaping Toxic Guilt: Five Proven Steps to Free Yourself from Guilt for Good! -Susan Carrell
Emotional Blackmail: When the People in your life use fear, obligation, and guilt to manipulate you. -Susan Forward
Graduating from guilt: Six steps to overcome guilt and reclaim your life.
-Holly Michelle Eckert.
Toxic Guilt, Healthy Guilt By Margaret Paul, Ph.D. http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/MargaretPaul13.html
Enjoy the break! In my view, you completely deserve it.