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When Caregivers Need a Break

Caregiving Question:

"You wrote about an elderly parent losing hope, but what about us, the caregivers? I am tired, angry, and in need of a break. I have been taking care of my mother for ten years. I feel that I am the one beginning to lose hope."


Mary's Answer:

Between the caregiver and the cared for, you have correctly identified the one who is at the greatest risk of burnout or fatigue, you. Your mental and physical health is at stake because caregiving can become exhausting.

It is essential for you to search for solutions that give you a regularly scheduled break, similar to the weekend for those that work Monday through Friday. Rest is essential to your health.

Now the first thing you will do is to think of the barriers.

  1. “No one will help me."
  2. “My siblings do not care.”
  3. “It costs too much money.”

The list can go on and on when coming up with excuses, but I have named the big three. The reality is that if something happens to you, your family or the social service system will step in and figure out care for your mother. She will not be abandoned without you to care for her. Sure, you may be correct in thinking the siblings or the system will not do the quality of the job you are doing, but the reality is that you need a break. Your health is dependent on it.

5 Steps to a More Rested Caregiver


  • One:  Sit down now and plan a vacation, perhaps a weekend, a week away once or twice a year, an entire month or simply an afternoon off twice per week.
  • Two: Notify your siblings of your plans.
  • Three: Stand back and wait for the siblings to either cover your vacation dates or negotiate an alternative plan with you. Stay strong here. You need a break.
  • Four: If you have no siblings, make some phone calls for respite care in a facility or via home care.
  • Five: Start planning what you will do with your time away. Dream a little. 

Caregiving is a long journey, and downtime is essential.  Each person's solution may differ, but breaks are needed from time to time to maintain your health in the long run.

I wish you the best!

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