by Helen O’Keeffe
(all content and infographic in this post provided by http://www.homecareplus.ie/palliative-care)
Caregivers are often so involved in caring for their patients that they neglect their own health, and the longer that continues, the more likely it is that the relationship between both parties can be harmed. Even though it may go against their innate, unselfish tendencies, there comes a point where a caregiver needs to say ‘stop’ and take a brief rest period for themselves.
If you provide regular care for someone and you find yourself becoming increasingly agitated, making poor judgements, feeling unusually exhausted or even losing your desire for caregiving, the time has come to take some respite. This can be for a few days or it can mean cutting back your caregiving time so that you have a few hours to yourself in the evening.
You’ll quite likely have forged such a strong sense of commitment to your patient that you could feel guilty about taking respite care. In the long run, it’s the best thing you can do. You want the patient to receive the best care possible, and if you feel so worn out that you can’t provide that for the time being, find someone else to take over for a short period. The patient can also benefit from temporary access to a fresh voice and, when you’re ready to resume caregiving duties, they’ll be delighted to see you back, not to mention the reinvigoration that you’ll experience.
It’s not a crime to know your limits and take a breather. As this infographic from Home Care Plus (http://www.homecareplus.ie/palliative-care) in Ireland shows, respite care is highly beneficial for both the caregiver and the patient. If you feel in need of a timeout, go for it. You’ve earned it from your enormous commitment to caregiving.