‘Respite,’ or the opportunity to take breaks from caregiving, whether formal or informal, can be hard to come by for family caregivers.
When I first started taking care of my grandma, my life looked like this:
Sure, I managed fine for a few months. But after a while, the fact that my 29-year-old life consisted of nothing but work and Grandma started to take its toll on me. I was getting burnt out.
Before my grandma started having issues, she always went to her Life Group on Friday nights. It dawned on me after sitting down and mapping out our life each week that if I wanted a break from caregiving, getting her involved in activities she used to participate in (to the extent she could participate now) was the key.
When my grandma first got home her first stint at the hospital/rehab (September 2015), she didn’t even feel like going back to church right away. Every single week, I would ask her. (Between you and me, I was personally okay with it, but I felt bad for her because I knew it was very important to her to attend). By the third trip back to the hospital (late January 2015), it seemed that my all purple life had no end in sight.
Fortunately, her last stint in the hospital addressed her final major health need: a gall bladder inflamed to four times the normal size. Once she got home from that hospital stay, she started feeling better and better. Finally, we made it back to church (March 2016). After we’d been back to church a couple of times and she started seeing her friends again, I asked and reminded her about her Life Group. She agreed that she would like to start going again, and she reached out to the leader of the group.
Since that time, she has faithfully attended her Life Group each week (except for instances of personal illness or inclement weather or when they call it off).
Both of us benefit from Grandma going to Life Group. She has something to look forward to each week that is enjoyable with her peers, and I get to enjoy a night ‘off’ from caregiving.
Is there something your loved one could participate in on a regular basis that would free you up? How have you been able to take a break from caring? I’d love to hear how you get respite. Leave a comment and share your experience.