If you are a caregiver or know a caregiver well, you understand the value of respite. When you look at your calendar, are you seeing the time for you? It’s time to make that time. Your Lotsa Community gives you a place to reserve time for your own respite. Use it to give yourself a break so you can give more to your loved one.
Why Respite Matters
Caregiving is all about giving. Caregivers pour from their emotional and physical reserves to support those who need them. However, one can only give so much without an opportunity to step back and take time for themselves. Respite is about getting that chance to rest and recharge. The Caregiver Action Network lists reserving time for respite among the top ten tips for caregivers, recommending they “take breaks often.” These breaks allow caregivers to start fresh with more energy, focus, and positivity to care for loved ones. Respite is not just nice, it’s necessary.
What is Respite?
Respite is about giving you, the caregiver, time away from your everyday responsibilities that fills your emotional, spiritual, physical, and psychological reserves. You may choose to use your time to catch up on a favorite hobby or activity. Painting, gardening, and other hobbies can bring a sense of relief and distraction. You may want to schedule time at the gym or go for a walk to release endorphins and relieve stress. You could sign up for a class or learn something new. You could even catch up with a friend, spend time reading, or take a nap. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s something you find relaxing and rejuvenating. Don’t just use this time to do another chore or take on another responsibility. This time is for taking care of yourself, no one else. If you are feeling guilty about taking this time for yourself, keep reminding yourself that respite is not selfish. Respite makes you a better caregiver.
Respite looks different for everyone. In an article about respite, the Caregiver Action Network discusses the range of respite options, from in-home to on-location. With your Lotsa Community, you have the option of scheduling help from friends and family who can give you respite from your caregiving responsibilities. Your Lotsa Community Calendar acts as your scheduling hub. It can help keep you organized as well as allow others to step in and be your relief. Use your calendar to schedule hours of respite every week or month. Your friends or family can then log into your Lotsa Community and choose which hours they would like to take.
You and your loved one may find it most helpful and comfortable if those who sign up to act as your respite do so on an ongoing basis. For this reason, you may want to create a Respite Group within your Lotsa Community. This group would consist of friends and family who are committed to sitting with your loved one, helping with medication or appointments, or running errands on a weekly or monthly basis. Those in this group can work together to give you the respite you need. You can then post tasks and activities in your calendar for those exclusively in the Respite Group to see. Those in the respite group can sign up for the days they can help and you can count on them to be there during your scheduled hours of respite.
For more tips on using your Lotsa Community Calendar, check this tip sheet!
The AARP recommends involving your loved one in your respite plan. Discuss how often you want to have time away and for how long at a time. Make sure you explain how important your respite time is to make you a better caregiver and give you the strength to care for them better. Also talk with your loved ones about who is in your respite group and who can best fill in while you are gone. Knowing who will be there, in your absence, will give you peace of mind.
Make it Count
As you are reviewing your calendar, looking for opportunities for respite, keep in mind that this isn’t about scheduling help here and there, but about developing a long-term solution. Having respite breaks on the calendar scheduled weeks and months in advance gives you something positive to focus on when you feel mentally or physically drained. Choose friends and family who are eager to give you this necessary time off and can commit to a regular schedule. In doing so, you ensure that you can enter your time of respite guilt-free.
The key to restful respite is making the most of whatever time is available to you. Do something you find truly relaxing and rejuvenating to ensure you are ready to get back to the everyday responsibility of caregiving.