As we near the last bit of summer, the desire for family caregivers to take time for a vacation, staycation or break can be top of mind. Going from contemplation of a vacation to implementation can create a great deal of stress for both the caregiver and the people they care for.
Common concerns and questions include:
- “Who will look after the person I’m caring for overnight?”
- “It’s going to cost money, can I justify this?”
- “What if person I care for doesn’t want anyone else to care for them but me?”
Taking a break is essential for caregivers. Without enough time away from caregiving duties, feelings of resentment and burnout may present themselves more readily. It is key to trust someone to take care of the person being cared for, to let someone have clear insight into the situation at hand, and to reconnect with yourself. Taking a holiday can build your resilience in caregiving by decreasing the chances of caregiver burnout.
Here are seven tips to make a vacation as a caregiver accessible:
- Find a Stand-In: Choose a replacement caregiver or a network of support. It may be family, friends, or you may decide to hire someone. It depends on how much help and care the person you are caring for needs, the financial resources available, and the length of time away.
- Schedule Time for the Caregiver to Meet the Care Recipient Beforehand: By creating time before the vacation for the person you care for to meet the stand-in caregiver, there is an opportunity to increase comfort levels about you leaving, and gives the alternate caregiver additional comfort with the routines and processes.
- Create Checklists: It is better to be over-prepared. Having detailed instructions for the caregiver will help ease your mind while you are away. This can be co-created with yourself and the stand-in caregiver, so everyone feels prepared, supported, and thorough.
- Attend to Financial Matters Before: Ensure that all bills are pre-paid and have cash accessible for expenses and emergency expenditures.
- Create an Emergency Contact List: Create a list of emergency telephone numbers and places of where you are staying. Keep this list with both the caregiver and another trusted source. You may want to inform the care team (doctor, case manager, or relevant personnel) to let them know you will be travelling and how they can reach you in an emergency.
- Create a Medical Emergency Plan: Discuss what needs to be done in a medical emergency such as an allergic reaction, stroke, or broken hip. A signed health care proxy or representation agreement should be set up and accessible for reference.
- Start Planning Early: Vacations can sneak up on us quickly. We suggest giving as much time as possible to organize care so you and the stand-in caregiver can feel as supported and prepared as possible.
You do not need to feel guilty about taking time away as a caregiver! We encourage you to take comfort in knowing that the person you are caring for is in good hands, and that you are worthy of a vacation, staycation or break to recharge.