One of my elderly friends, Rachel, let her adult son move in with her while he experienced hard times. It was natural for a mother to take care of her only son. Little did they know that her health was about to decline and the roles would switch! Fortunately, he was a good son and gladly took on the responsibility of caring for his mother. Over time, though, I noticed a change in him. He started arguing with his mother (who had Alzheimer’s) on a regular basis, trying to get her to remember things that the two of them had previously discussed. His patience was short and he started experiencing health problems as well. Does this scenario seem familiar to you?
Some moments of impatience and frustration are normal. Respite, defined by Merriam Webster as “an interval of rest or relief,” is a term we use in the caregiving industry. For caregivers, rest and relief can make a significant difference in reducing levels of stress attributed to the constant care needed by their loved ones. How do you know when it is time to take a break? There are many signs, but here are a few common ones:
- Feeling stressed before getting out of bed in the morning – or not wanting to get out of bed.
- You cannot talk to your loved one in normal conversational tones – you are short and often angry.
- You are easily agitated and experience irrational anger.
- You feel overwhelmed and have constant feelings of anxiousness.
- You feel alone, as if no one can help you and that no one understands.
- You feel ashamed for having negative feelings of frustration.
- You cannot control your emotions; you may have outbursts of crying or laughter.
- You are experiencing stress-related health issues.
These are just a few of the signs you may need to take a break. It is true that if you do not take care of yourself, then you cannot take care of your loved ones. Seek help! It may be a family member, someone from your congregation, or another resource. Imagine having time to yourself, even if it is to go see a movie or have lunch with a friend…or a vacation. There are resources to help you get that much-needed break, making your role as a caregiver much less stressful.
You can find respite care resources on this site by clicking here. You may contact us (Seniors in Service), as well, at 775-358-3914 for assistance or visit our website at https://www.seniorsinservicenevada.org/ We will do our best to help you find a resource for your caregiving needs.
Mary Brock is the Executive Director of Seniors in Service, which provides respite services through the Seniors in Service Caregiver Respite Program.