Tag Archives: respite care

The gift of taking a break

It has been so long since I have taken a real vacation that I can’t even remember where I went the last time.

The last several years, taking a real vacation was simply not an option. When you are a caregiver, you are on call 24/7. This is true even if you are a long-distance caregiver. Any time I went away for a few days, I was concerned if I lacked a cell phone signal. Wonder if Mom needed me? Wonder if Dad took a turn for the worse? While I found some enjoyment in weekend trips to the mountains, I never truly could tune out of life’s responsibilities.

beach

This time, in a trip that was postponed for several years, I took a full week off to visit Florida, stopping in Sanibel Island, Key West and St. Augustine. Sure, it was expensive. Yes, I don’t need any more debt.

joy beachBut if I’ve learned anything over the last several years, it’s that life is unpredictable. Over the last year, several bloggers I follow have lost a parent or other loved one, just like I have. After we have served as dutiful caregivers, the future opens back up for us, and that can be both beautiful and intimidating, like the ocean I viewed over vacation.

I’m trying to be mindful of not putting life’s pleasures on indefinite hold. We don’t know how long we have here, and how long our health will hold up to allow us to enjoy traveling.

Whether you are a caregiver or not, we all need respite from the daily grind. It’s not always feasible to take a trip, but taking a break can come in many forms. I encourage everyone to take time out just for themselves, whether it’s an hour, a day or a week. It’s not selfish to do things for yourself; it’s crucial to your mental, emotional and physical health.

I would love to hear how you recharge, even if you can’t take a traditional vacation.

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“Your mother is driving me crazy”

If you have been following my blog over the past few months (which I greatly appreciate by the way) you know I have been serving as a caregiver for my mother, who was diagnosed with colon cancer. She has made great strides in her recovery. Tomorrow, I’m going home for hopefully a three-week respite until the week of Thanksgiving. I know there are caregivers that never get a respite for years while caring for family members, so I am indeed grateful.

That said, Mom and I are like oil and water. Mom is an extrovert to the extreme; I’m an introvert to the extreme. We were never meant to live together for an extended period of time as adults. I’m a very independent person that, at 38 years old, balks at the idea of my mother telling me what and when to eat, what to wear and how to act. Mom was used to having my Dad to cater to for 40 years, and he was extremely dependent upon her. The man could not have made a cup of coffee for himself. Their relationship was a sign of the times, where the man worked outside of the home, and the woman was the queen of all things domestic.

I know it has been hard for Mom to adjust to losing a great deal of the personal control she had over her domestic life. However, as caregivers know, that doesn’t mean you allow yourself to be bullied. Setting boundaries is a very important step for caregivers, and I have stuck to mine, even if Mom has been displeased with having to deal with her adult daughter versus the little girl that she forever sees in her mind.

So bottom line, neither Mom or I are saints. We get on each other’s nerves, and that’s just the way it is. But through the most difficult of times, I have thought about one of the last sane things Dad said to me, as I was departing from a brief holiday visit a few years ago. I couldn’t wait to get away, back to my life. I told Dad to take care. Dad said, “Your mother is driving me crazy.”

Now, I’m not blaming Dad’s dementia on Mom’s control freak ways. As I said, Dad was very dependent upon Mom, long before the Alzheimer’s set in. But living with my mom these past two months does give me a better appreciation of what Dad experienced. I think Dad was much better at tuning out and letting things just roll of of him than I am.

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Filed under Memories