If you are responsible for the care of a loved one, travel or leisure are sometimes difficult to imagine. But while thinking about going away might feel unrealistic, caregiving experts say that planning for this time is critically and vitally important.
Caregiving can be stressful, and sustained caregiving requires that you take time to recharge your batteries.
You might be thinking, “In the grand scheme of things, is a vacation or leisure time that important?”
A vacation can significantly benefit you and your loved one. If you soldier on without a break, your ability to maintain a consistent level of care for your loved one gradually will decline. Additionally, it is important for you to recognize that neglecting your health could further complicate your present circumstances.
You also might wonder how that happens.
Brainstorm what is important and possible for your individual circumstance. What is realistic in your particular case? There are so many ways to make this happen, and it can be a different plan for each family.
The idea of vacation is to get away from the routine to enjoy the wonder of what life has to offer. It doesn’t have to be for two weeks. It could be for two hours. It doesn’t have to be to an exotic location, as it could be at a state or city park. It doesn’t have to be multiple nights away but rather a day trip.
Vacations evolve throughout our lifetimes. Whether it is a couple of hours or a couple of days, the most important thing is to get away to refresh and rejuvenate.
Also, think about whether you can go together or if it would be better to find alternative care for your loved one. If your loved one can sustain a mini vacation, go together. If your loved one would not do well with time away, perhaps you can have a family member stand in for you while you take a break.
Spend a time doing wellness activities, such as going to a spa, doing yoga or fishing, painting or gardening in nature.
Whatever window of time you have, make sure you embrace a slower pace and make time to reconnect with your authentic self.
While it’s rewarding to support the health and comfort of a loved one, the significant spend in energy that constant caregiving brings is inevitable and unanimously recognized. It simply is not sustainable without some rest and relaxation. Give yourself the permission to take an occasional diversion or excursion. This interlude is one of the best ways to advance your wellness for both of you.
Laura Nissen is an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer who enjoys advocating for those with memory disorders. She works with families to help them learn the skills of caregiving. She also serves as a community educator, caregiver support group leader and Memory Café leader for the the Alzheimer’s Association.