Providing care to a family member or a friend with dementia is a mentally and physically challenging job.
Everyone needs a break—it is normal. Seeking help through respite care does not mean you cannot handle your role as a caregiver, in fact, it reflects well on you. You need space to take care of yourself, and the use of respite services can strengthen your ability to be a caregiver.
During the holiday season, respite care can help you balance your own holiday-related activities, and it helps you to take care of your own health as well as manage the needs of the person with dementia.
Respite Care for Your Holiday Break
In an ideal world as a caregiver, you may already have respite care lined up on a regular basis.
Respite care gives you a needed break whether it is a few hours a day or a few days a month, and this gives you peace of mind knowing that you can function through the holiday season while taking care of extra demands that holidays can make on your time and energy.
Respite care will help you:
- Spend time with other friends and family.
- Have personal time just to relax.
- Obtain a sense of peace knowing that the one that you care for is with a caring individual.
Care for the Caregiver is About Balance
It is helpful to you as a caregiver to plan ahead for the holiday season so that you take care of your own needs. Your heart may also be telling you to create enriching holiday moments for the one that you care for, and we agree. Here are simple steps to create that balance:
- Prioritize which holidays, gatherings, and related activities are important to you.
- While trying to include the person with dementia in as many holiday activities as possible, establish which events they can attend, and determine when you will need a break via respite care. Enrich the life of the one that you care for by involving them in simple holiday preparations, or, they can watch you do so.
- Your own health is key to managing your role as a caregiver. Define how you will continue caring for yourself through the busy holiday season.
- Encourage family and friends to visit throughout the holidays, individually or in pairs, rather than forming a large group that might encourage overstimulation for the one that you care for. Plan the visits during timeframes when the person is well-rested and at their best.
Communicate with Family and Friends
Set your own limits during the holiday season and communicate it to family and friends. Your situation is different than theirs, and you are the best person to set boundaries that help you take care of you.
Consider meeting with family and long-time friends to introduce them to your exact needs and why you need respite care. Do not be surprised if a family member or friend steps forward and offers to pitch in and provide some respite care.
Be prepared to answer questions. Most people realize that caregiving is difficult, but they may not understand it completely. By addressing their concerns and fears, you might encourage others to volunteer and spend time with the person they have had in their life for many years.
Introduce Respite Care to the One You Care For
Transitioning to respite care may be difficult for the one you care for to understand. To help the person get ready for respite care and feel less anxiety, make it a gradual introduction process.
Begin the introduction to respite care, either to a memory daycare site or to a respite care visitor, at least a week before the visit.
Here are a few tips for ushering in the introduction:
- Start your conversation with questions. This opens the opportunity up for them to come up with their own solution, which will help them understand the need for respite care. Ask questions like “I may need to run a few errands one day how you can take care of yourself if I am out?” “If you had an emergency, and I was not home, who could help you take care of things?”
- Begin showing photos and websites of the respite care visitor or daycare site and explain the visiting process.
- A phone call from the visiting respite care person can help the person you care for feel at ease as if they know or have a connection with the respite care visitor. This also gives the visiting caregiver an opportunity to connect and get to know who they will be caring for.
- Keep the focus on the one that you care for. This will to prevent them from feeling fear or a sense of abandonment. Direct the conversations around their safety and health care. Always acknowledge their feelings.
Prepare and Know You Aren’t Alone
As you prepare for your needed and welcome break during the holiday season, remember that you aren’t alone and respite care can be the way for you to take better care of yourself during any busy or stressful time.
It is important to remember that seeking help does not make you a failure. Allow no personal feelings of guilt—respite serves the person with dementia as well as the caregiver.
Whether it is for a few hours a day or a few days a month, we have created a Respite Program designed to give you the assistance that you need. We are here to help.
When we care for ourselves, we can care better for our loved ones.