When you are responsible for the care of an aging loved one, a summer vacation or weekend getaway may seem impossible or out-of-reach. Questions race through your mind: What happens if Mom falls? Who will remind Dad to take his medications? What if there is a storm? You feel overwhelmed and cancel your plans. But caregiving burnout is real, and it is important to take time to take care of yourself.
With a Plan in Place, You Can Take a Vacation from Caregiving Duties
Not taking time away from caregiving responsibilities can lead to bigger problems – caregiver burnout, stress, or poor health. With some extra planning and help, you can take a break from your caregiver role. Aging Life Care™ experts offer these tips to help make sure your loved one is safe and comfortable while you are away:
1. In-Home Caregivers: If there is not another family member or trusted friend or neighbor to fill in for you, connect with an Aging Life Care Professional™ who can help arrange for in-home care, monitoring, or transportation needs. Many Aging Life Care Professionals offer 24/7 service and can serve as an emergency contact while you are away. Depending on the individual’s needs, paid caregivers can assist with activities of daily living – bathing, dressing, mobility, meal preparations, house cleaning, or transportation. If you plan on using a paid caregiver, spend time getting the caregiver and your loved one familiar and comfortable with each other and to be sure it is a good match.
2. Organize Important Documents: Prepare a folder or binder of information for the person/agency who will provide care and oversight while you are away. Include information on emergency contacts, physicians, preferred hospital, pharmacy, and other service providers, such as therapy services, Meals on Wheels, home care agency, etc. Also include your loved one’s medication list and other important documents such as Power of Attorney, Living Will, Advance Directives, and Do Not Resuscitate orders.
3. In-Home Technology: There are a variety of new technologies designed for keeping aging adults safe in their homes, including personal emergency response systems (PERS), GPS tracking devices, automated medication reminders and dispensers, as well as systems that allow you to remotely monitor or control the usage of certain electrical outlets or appliances.
4. Respite Care: Many retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes offer respite care on a per diem basis for short stays. If your loved one just needs daytime-only activities or supervision, consider an adult day care center.
“Caregiving is exhausting and difficult work,” says Jeffrey S. Pine, past-president of the Aging Life Care Association™. “But with some extra planning and research, it is possible to take some time away from your caregiving responsibilities to recharge your batteries.”
To access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please visit aginglifecare.org. For more on how an Aging Life Care Professional can help you plan for a caregiver vacation, read Next Avenue’s “How to Take a Vacation When You’re a Caregiver” by Wendy Shuman.