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R-E-S-P-I-T-E

Posted Jun 26 2009 5:22pm

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!

Who wouldn’t like a little R & R?  We love the idea but even in the best of times we find ways to fill our days with endless chores and activities.  When caring for someone with a chronic or life-threatening illness the idea of R & R takes on a whole new meaning.  It’s no longer simply for fun; we’re talking about sanity.

It’s not unusual for caregivers/wellness partners whose loved one is in hospice to receive respite care.  The truth is that respite is always important whether the person is newly diagnosed or on their death bed.  It’s about being able to step away knowing that the person is cared for and for a moment in time, however brief, you’re not responsible.  Can you hear me….for a moment in time you can release the reins and just be you, not the role you play as a caregiver.

I know that many caregivers feel guilty about respite.  When we got respite care for my mother-in-law so she could go out leaving a trained professional with my father-in-law we were shocked by the outcome.  She would sit at home while the respite worker was there.  It wasn’t because she didn’t trust the respite worker; I don’t think she knew what to do with herself or where to go.  She’d already been caring for my father-in-law at home for ten years.  The idea of having freedom was daunting.

Don’t wait until you’re at wits end to look into some type of respite care.  It doesn’t reflect on your intention or ability as a caregiver.  I’m not sure the saying what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is always accurate.  In a lot of cases I think what doesn’t kill you leaves you totally exhausted.  If you’re that’ tired who are you really able to help?

Embrace respite care as your lifeline.  It will provide you time and opportunity to recharge your battery, relax, and who knows maybe even go out and have a good time doing something you love.  Martyrdom isn’t attractive; learn to use the resources that are available in the community.  You’ll be doing everyone involved a favor!

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