Q. My mother has dementia and lives with me. I would like to be able to get away for a long weekend, but I feel guilty that no one else will take as good care of her as I do.
Though caring for others can be rewarding and meaningful, it’s seldom easy. It can take a toll, undermining physical and emotional health as well as eroding productivity at work and relationships at home. In extreme cases, unrelieved caregiver stress can lead to burnout, neglect, or even abuse. Stepping away helps prevent these negative consequences and preserves the capacity to care.
Begin by taking small, much-needed breaks from the responsibilities of caregiving. Respite can be as brief as stopping for a few moments or relaxing for a few hours, and may not require any outside help. Every caregiver needs to claim the right to this type of respite. Whether pausing to eat a healthy meal, talk with a friend, say some prayers or take a nap, these self-nurturing practices restore energy and are the cornerstones of caregiver well-being. Set aside some time every day that is just for you.