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Respite: Enjoy a Guilt-free Time-out

By Kate Murphy, RN
(Page 1 of 2)

Why is it that the words “respite” and “guilt” seems to go hand in hand? Why do we as caregivers feel we are somehow failing our loved one by admitting that we need help, need time to recharge our batteries, or just need time to play a bit? Perhaps because so many of us still hold on to the myth that says the caregiver has to be all things to all people.

The truth is, that no matter how we try, we are not super-duper caregiver extraordinaire. We are human with all the same needs and feelings as every other person in our lives. And, just like everyone else we need to take time to smell the roses.

The thought of going away for even a brief time for many caregivers is fraught with fears of disaster and chaos because we are not there to over see everything. After all, we all know that no one can replace what we do as caregivers to our family member or loved one. 

And this belief was not so far from the truth. In fact, I still firmly believe that no one can replace the caregiver. The love and support we provide to our charge cannot be duplicated by anyone. Still, sometimes, it is OK to let someone else do the best they can for our family member, so that we can take time to regroup and in doing so, be ale to continue to be the wonderful caregiver that we have been to date. It is a simple concept when you think about it. In using the principals of respite we will ultimately be providing the very best care to our loved one that is humanly possible.

As a caregiver it is important that we recognize that it is ok to take a break from our caregiving duties. It is ok to feel tired, and want to have a break from caregiving! Not only is it OK, it is your right! You are allowed to stay healthy both physically and emotionally. Actually, by not doing this you are helping to create a potential problem down the road. No one can keep going day after day without a break, sooner or later it is going to catch up with you, and not only will you suffer, but also your loved will as well.

It is equally important to know that not taking that break can and often results in medical complications to the caregiver. If a medical emergency developed for the caregiver, who then will help provide the care to their loved one?

Ask any caregiver who has been at it for any length of time, and you will learn that their own health has suffered when they failed to take proper care of themselves. Respite care is on way in which the caregiver can get this needed break, and hopefully do it without that old GUILT feeling creeping in. By taking care of you, and recharging your own batteries, you are ultimately taking care of your loved one. There is no need to allow guilt into the picture. All this will do is prevent you from reaping the full rewards of a true respite.

Respite care can be anything from a few hours a week, to longer periods of up to two weeks or longer in some cases in order to provide care to a loved one while the caregiver takes a break. Respite Care provides caregivers the opportunity to:
Take a vacation.

Have a weekend getaway.
Attend to home or work responsibilities that have been building up.
Recharge their energy to be better prepared to provide the attention and patience required on a daily basis.

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