Taking care of an elderly parent can be draining. Whether you’re the day-to-day caregiver or the child with primary responsibility for emotional and practical support, it’s essential that you get some time off to refresh yourself and starve off burnout.

Yet going away can seem impossible.   There are so many details and worries to deal with as a caregiver that it might seem simpler to just give up on the idea of a vacation. But there are options.

Many nursing homes, assisted living residences and senior retirement communities offer respite services on a short-term basis. To inquire which nursing homes offer respite contact your local RHA home care department. In Brandon, you could contact the retirement communities to see if they provide respite services. If they do you could then hire a private home care company to meet your loved ones needs.

There are also in-home options to consider: Ask a relative or sibling to stay over. This is a great option for an elderly parent that may be resistant to staying elsewhere while you are away. If you don’t have a relative or sibling to take over, then you could also consider hiring a private agency to come into your parent’s home while you are away.

No matter where your parent stays in your absence, it is essential to organize important information for whoever is providing or overseeing care. Make a notebook or folder that includes the following:

  • The primary and secondary emergency contacts
  • A list of all other family contacts
  • A list of physicians and their phone numbers
  • The pharmacy where you parent gets their medications
  • A list of all medications
  • Documents, including power of attorney, living will, advance directives and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders

If your parent has a ERIK (Emergency Response Information Kit) on their fridge, make sure it has the most current information on it.

Caregivers feel guilty about taking vacations away from their elderly parent. Some guilt-producing thoughts include “Nobody can do it the way I do it”, “Mom is used to me”, or “If something happened I could never forgive myself.” But caregivers deserve a break from the chaos of caregiving! Taking a break is a necessity; you carry the weight of the responsibility in your heart and mind. Leaving on vacation gives a different message to your brain and heart. Look at it this way – who will care for mom or dad if your health fails due to the stress of caregiving? That is why it is important to also care for yourself, mentally and physically.

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