Caring for your aging or disabled parent or loved one is certainly a labor of love, but one that often takes a physical and emotional toll on the caregiver. So making the time to take a much needed caregiver vacation is a extremely important for your own well-being.
This full-time job of “caring” often accompanies all of your other duties and responsibilities. Therefore, taking time to rest and rejuvenate is extremely important for but you and your loved one. And that means taking a vacation, even if it’s only for a weekend.
Except for the fact that caregiving doesn’t come with a team to cover for you while you’re gone. And if you want to actually relax during your getaway, some careful scheduling and home updates will prevent worrying about the quality of your loved one’s care.
Find someone to help
As the primary caregiver for your loved one, you need someone to cover both your caregiving and homeowner’s responsibilities while you’re gone.
- Hire a professional caregiver. Professional caregivers help with a variety of duties. They can live with your loved one 24/7, stay during the day, or just visit for a few hours, depending on the need.
- Turn to family, friends, or neighbors. If you have siblings, friends, or even close neighbors you can ask them to cover for you. They can even rotate to take care of your home and do household tasks that your loved one can’t do.
- Find a skilled nurse. Does your loved one need special medical help? Have a certified nurse step in to fill your shoes. Nurses are licensed and trained to provide care for complicated medical issues.
Prepare your home
Don’t make your temporary caregiver figure things out alone. Prepare your home so everything is easily accessible. While you’re at it, get some home technology that will keep you in the loop.
- Gather important information. Gather all the necessary paperwork, medical records, and emergency contacts your loved one might need. Tape the documents to the refrigerator, within easy reach.
- Prepare meals. Whether you hire a full-time caregiver or not, prepping meals ahead of time makes it easier for your loved one to eat properly. Package meals in the fridge or freezer with clear labels and instructions.
- Do the laundry. Ensure that your loved one will have enough clean socks and underwear while you’re gone. Lay out clothing for the week, or hang outfits grouped together and clearly labeled in the closet.
- Install a home security system. A smart system lets you view alerts and even security camera feeds remotely from your smartphone. This will add to your ability to rest and not worry about how they’re doing while you’re gone.
- Get a medical alert. A medical alert will help your loved one contact emergency services at the press of a button. You can also receive a call if anything happens.
Set the social calendar
Your loved one is used to having you around, so make your absence easier with some careful schedule planning. Post a calendar in an obvious place so your loved one always knows what the next thing is on the to-do list.
- Overlap the transition. If possible, have your temporary caregiver start while you’re still around. It will help the caregiver understand how you do things, and it will help your loved one get to know them.
- Make a social calendar. From doctor’s visits to social events, put everything in the calendar. Hang a large, visual calendar for easy reference, and mark the date you return.
- Write down the daily schedule. Is your loved one used to a certain daily routine? Let the temporary caregiver know. Map out a typical day for the caregiver to have as a reference.
- Plan something fun. Ask your loved one if there’s anything special they’d like to do while you’re gone or once you get back. You want them to have something to look forward to during your absence.
- Reassure your loved one. Listen to their worries and concerns before you leave. Let your loved one know that the only thing that will change while you’re gone is your presence. Make sure they understand that you’re coming back.
Rest and renew
Taking a vacation shouldn’t make you feel “caregiver-guilt” which is common among those caring for a loved one. Remember, that taking care of yourself isn’t an act of selfishness, but ensuring that you’re staying filled up to best care for them.
When you take time to care for yourself, you’ll be a better caregiver. With everything settled before you leave, you’ll enjoy your vacation knowing that your loved one is well taken care of. Share in the comments below what your dream vacation would look like!