Guilt is the gift that keeps giving. Just ask a caregiver who spends much of his or her time looking after a family member or friend. Often, those who give so much forget to take a much-needed break.
"You can't be the best caregiver you can be if you are tired, stressed and in need of a break," said Pamela Cregger who presented information to a gathering of caregivers on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care.
"Never feel guilty about what your needs are," she said.
The purpose of respite is to rest and recharge and giving yourself a break can be as simple as leaving the room to read or have some quiet time.
Cregger offered several strategies for successful respite care that include the following:
Acknowledge that you need a break
Give yourself permission to take that break
Say "yes" to yourself and "no" to things that you can't get to right away
New mothers often receive advice to rest or nap when baby is sleeping. Often, caregivers do the opposite and fit in housecleaning or other errands while a loved one is resting; as a result, they fail to take a much-needed break during the day.
"Eventually, caregivers begin to feel guilty at some point, mainly because they don't want to acknowledge their own needs, that's when respite becomes even more important," Cregger said.
Respite care offers relief, support, stress reduction and helps the caregiver maintain a good relationship with a loved one.
Creggar cited medical studies that reveal how stress can continue affecting the body up to three years after the care giving stops.
Depression, anxiety and high blood pressure often result during and after the care giving process, she said.
Individuals may reach out to organizations within the community that offer assistance to include non-medical, in-home care as well as sitter/companionship services.
Support groups also are available for caregivers to share stories and vent in a safe, non-judgmental environment.