Earlier this month we talked about the importance of doing things for yourself as well as learning to value who YOU are! (Celebrate Yourself 2/4, Learning to Love Yourself 2/13). Today I’d like to chat about Running Away, Returning Home.
I clearly remember talking with a friend, (who called me), and saying; “I want to run away from home.” There was probably not anything in particular wrong that day, and more than likely nothing particularly arduous in my caregiver schedule. It was more a feeling a being ‘trapped’ in my role as a caregiver. I certainly cared for my cognitively impaired loved-one, but felt a deep longing for a modicum of normalcy – something, anything that resembled MY LIFE!
As those words left my mouth I realized I had fallen into caregiver depression and isolation. I knew it was time to make a definitive decision regarding the amount of time I was spending as a caregiver. After all, it’s one thing to take off half a day to get a facial or manicure or play a round of golf - but a completely different one to contemplate a vacation!
While it may not be monetarily feasible, it is important for ALL caregivers to consider taking a vacation. This may mean having to plan, save up funds, enlist other family members to cover your time away — but it is important for YOU to take a respite! You need to rest, relax, and recharge your batteries!
For some, it is difficult to battle the feelings of ‘abandoning’ your loved one to take a golf vacation or go lay on a beach. But remember, the Alzheimer’s patient typically no longer has a real sense of time, so you being away for an hour may seem the same as you being away for 5 days. The important thing is to take care of yourself first, so that you can take care of someone else!
So, schedule yourself a trip to the mountains or the beach, participate in a 3-day golf tourney, or go to a weekend quilting class. No matter what you choose, the important thing is that you just do it! Once you are away, try to commit to only checking in on your loved-one once a day. This will satisfy your emotional need to know that things are fine and that they are well cared for and still leave you time to enjoy yourself!
Lastly, let me say that after you take your vacation, the ”…Returning Home” part is so much sweeter. You’ll look forward to spending quality time with your loved one, to socializing, telling them about your trip, maybe sharing your photos and taking about who you saw and what you did. I guarantee they will be happy to have you home, again and YOU will feel so much better!