Being a caregiver is often a full-time job. In fact, for many caregivers, the responsibilities associated with looking after a loved one go far beyond those expected in a traditional 9-5 job, as the hours are often never-ending and they’re always “on call.” Time demands can be especially difficult if your loved one is still living independently in a separate residence.
Another overlooked challenge for caregivers is getting time for themselves during the day—let alone a vacation. But everyone needs opportunities to briefly break away from their responsibilities and recharge their batteries. Otherwise, burnout and a reduced quality in care are almost inevitable.
At Seniors Helping Seniors, we know that many caregivers view taking a vacation as a nearly impossible pipedream—especially when they have someone who depends on them almost daily. However, we also know that vacations are essential for caregivers in order to maintain their energy and their dedication to providing for their loved ones.
5 Things to Consider When Planning a Vacation
Planning a vacation is always stressful. There are plenty of things to worry about, including how much money you’ll spend, whether your accommodations will be suitable for your family, and how any loved ones staying behind will fare when you’re not easily available if they need you.
Those anxieties can be significantly amplified when you care for a loved one, and you may feel guilty about taking time for yourself when someone else depends on your presence and assistance to get through the day.
To make things easier for yourself and your loved one, consider these five factors when planning your next vacation:
- Notify your loved one about the upcoming trip, but don’t dwell on it—It’s important to tell your loved one that you have a trip planned, but the way you tell him or her is equally important. Mention it with plenty of time for him or her to process the information, but don’t continually bring it up or express your worries concerning your impending absence. That can create unnecessary anxiety and fears for you and your loved one in the months and weeks leading up to the trip.
- Find someone you can trust to take your place—Most separation anxieties for caregivers come from not knowing who will take their place while they’re gone. Appointing a trusted love one or family friend to take over some or all of your duties while you’re away can be a lifesaver during your vacation. If that isn’t an option, consider hiring a licensed home companion or healthcare worker to visit regularly or stay with your loved one until you get back.
- Give your loved one all necessary travel information before you leave—Technology has made it easier than ever for people to instantly get in touch with each other, even when they’re separated by thousands of miles. Make sure you travel with your cell phone and that it’s capable of making and receiving calls wherever you’re going. In addition, be sure to provide your loved one and his or her temporary caregiver with your itinerary and alternate methods for contacting you, including hotel phone numbers.
- Stay in touch with your loved one during your trip—Whether you communicate via phone calls, emails, or even postcards, be sure to regularly contact your loved one while you’re away. In addition to giving him or her something to look forward to, your touchpoints will also be reassuring for both you. You’ll be able to quickly ascertain how his or her care is going, while he or she will be able to stay updated on the status of your trip and begin anticipating your return.
- Remember why you’re taking the vacation in the first place—It can be difficult to take a guilt-free vacation when you’re a caregiver, but a stressful and anxiety-filled vacation can be worse than not taking a vacation at all. Taking care of as many tasks and small details as possible before you leave can help you clear your head, freeing you to unplug, recharge, and unwind while you’re sightseeing or just relaxing on the beach.
When it’s time for you to “recharge the batteries” this summer and get away for a bit, Seniors Helping Seniors Southwest Broward is here to help. Our professional in-home care services include a wide variety of non-medical services. From short visits to overnight stays, we can help your loved one maintain their own independence and put your mind at ease while you’re away. Call us today at 954-202-5000 or complete this convenient form to set up a personal consultation and learn more.