Taking a Rest: Family Caregiving and the Need for Time Off
If you are providing care for a loved one suffering from a neurological disorder, then it is essential to give yourself some rest. There are many reasons to take breaks from caregiving because the role of a family caregiver is a tiring one. This blog will help you consider some ideas for relief.
Taking breaks are not selfish
First, we must address an important issue: There are also many reasons why you might not take breaks. These reasons can range from time constraints to more emotional considerations. Perhaps the idea of taking a break may challenge your perceived ability as a caretaker—and even as a family member or friend. You may feel guilty for wanting a break. Or you may feel that breaks can be abandonment.
The idea of taking a break can be a moral challenge for some. Some say that a break is only justified when they have ensured that all of their caregiving goals have been met, such as getting everything prepared for their loved one’s day. Research in Spain has been done on the importance of rest for caregivers and has found that some individuals want their breaks to be considered “legitimate,” i.e. rest recognized as conscientious, responsible, and warranted. All of these thoughts are important and hesitation to be away from your loved one means you deeply care for them. But caregivers have the right to alleviate their own physical, emotional, and mental stress, as well. And this right should not be considered as a selfish luxury but essential to individual health.
Taking time to rest from caregiving is a necessary task in order to find peace of mind. Yet it is important that you feel satisfied with the way you spend your time off lest your time becomes unrestful—which defeats the whole purpose of a break. 
What you can do to take breaks
First, you must determine the amount of time you think you would like to take off. From there you may be able to collaborate with family members or close friends who can stand in for you during your break. You can use this time to practice a therapeutic activity like speaking to friends or family, exercising, accomplishing your own personal tasks, reading, writing, or even getting some extra sleep. Whatever the task may be, it is important that you feel completely content during your time off so that you can divert your attention to meaningful activities that are important to you. Remember: You do a lot as a family caregiver and it is no easy task, so time off is crucial to maintain your physical and mental well-being.
If family members or friends cannot fill in for you, then you can contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) which can provide various services depending on what you are looking for.
If it is within your financial means, then finding a form of respite service is also an option. You can find this through any organization that offers some form of homecare service. For instance, ElderCare at Home offers its “Reach Out for Respite” program which matches a trained caregiver to your loved one to provide the best services possible. Additionally, Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center provides their “Comforting Companion” services for similar purposes.
If you have more questions feel free to visit ElderCare at Home’s website or call us at 561-585-0400.
 de la Cuesta-Benjumea, Carmen. “The legitimacy of rest: conditions for the relief of burden in advanced dementia care-giving.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 66, no. 5 (2009): 988-998.
 See de la Cuesta-Benjumea, 2009.
 Lund, D.A., et al. “Examining what caregivers do during respite time to make respite more effective.” Journal of Applied Gerontology 28, no. 1 (2009): 109-131.