It’s summertime; the season for vacations and trips to the beach. As a professional caregiver, you may feel that you can’t enjoy summer like everyone else. Guilt may strike whenever you think about planning a vacation because you feel that no one can care for your aged clients like you can.
These are very common feelings shared by the majority of caregivers. However, the truth is that taking a break to refresh and unwind makes you a better caregiver. It takes some planning, but you can take a break and should. It’s a great way to avoid caregiver burnout!
“No one else will know what my client wants.”
Substitute caregivers may not know the fine details of your client’s daily preferences, but you can discuss that with them and leave a detailed list. A skilled colleague will understand aging, memory or cognitive diseases, increasing agitation, and sundowning.
“No one will know what to do if I am not here.”
You can leave detailed instructions for the respite caregiver. The week before you are to leave, keep a list of everything you do with your client. Review the checklist with him or her and ask if s/he would like to add anything (if cognition allows).
“I have been taking care of her for so long, and she is so sick, I won’t be able to enjoy myself.”
While these sentiments may be true, they also create enormous stress. Remaining healthy as a caregiver means knowing your limitations and purpose. If you become ill or emotionally distraught, will you be able to give them the quality of care that you want to give?
Leave important information.
- To give yourself peace of mind while on vacation, leave a list of important people and their contact information for the respite caregiver, even if you know they are in the client’s record.
- Names and numbers of family members who are guardians/health care proxy/ etc.
- The name of the family member or friend who you know can calm your client if needed.
- Name of physician, nurse practitioner, or case manager
If you’ve been caring for your client for any length of time, you know the fine details of what can calm them during agitation, redirect them if they become upset, and cheer them in the late afternoon. List these thoughts for the respite caregiver!
For example: Every day at 4 pm, Sarah becomes distraught that she doesn’t have what she needs to prepare dinner. You know that putting an apple and a dish towel on the table calms her. She can rub the produce as if she were cleaning it for dinner.
Leaving information like this is important on all levels:
- The respite caregiver can provide care that is meaningful to your client
- Your client may be able to transition more smoothly to the temporary caregiver
- You can relax knowing that this very important detail will be taken care of in your absence.