November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to celebrate our nation’s 90 million family caregivers and all they do. Not all care for loved ones takes place in hospitals, nursing homes or medical clinics – in fact, most care occurs in the home. The task of a family caregiver is not an easy one, and caregiving affects the entire family. It also takes a lot of planning, energy and patience, so consider adding a light and stress-free task to your to-do list and just R-e-s-p-i-t-e.
Respite is a break for the caregiver and an opportunity to re-energize. It is the most frequently requested support service for family caregivers. Respite protects your overall well-being and strengthens family relationships; it also prevent burn-outs and allows your loved one to stay at home up to three times longer. In the great words of Aretha Franklin just, “find out what it means to me,” R-E-S-P-I-T-E:
R – Rest and Relaxation A little R&R does the body good; simply cease motions and close your eyes for a short period of time. Try to loosen up muscles and become less tense. This refresher has a long list of health benefits such as ability to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, reduce chronic pain and boost productivity.
E – Energize A caregiver is a full-time job beyond the common work hours; it is oftentimes 24/7. It’s necessary to re-energize in any way you can. Grab a fresh cup of joe, have a family member relieve you for some R&R and take deep breaths.
S – Sleep A full night’s rest is as a priceless reset button. Caregivers often have sleep problems. Take a short nap if time allows and try to slumber as long as possible through the night, before the lack of sleep takes a serious toll on your body.
P – Programs There are programs that can offer support. Although it may be hard to find the time, let alone the program, make this a priority to find a helping hand whether it be a motivator or a simple phone call to keep you thriving.
I – Imagination Let your mind run free and your imagination wonder. Simply exploring your imagination through a book, a movie or even a piece of art can help refresh your brain to more creative thinking, which will actually help make you a better caregiver all around.
T – Take Five This simple step is frequently forgotten. Take five minutes, or better yet, take 10. There’s no need to feel guilty if you’ve had the thought, “I wish I had just 10 minutes to myself.” Reprieve yourself for a short period, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how you come back alert and engaged.
E – Exhale Last but not least, exhale. First, take a deep breathe in and hold, then release the air in a long fashion. Deep breaths in and exhales out will increase your vitality and help uphold focus. It will also keep your brain feeling rejuvenated and sharp.
Just a little bit of R-E-S-P-I-T-E will go a long way. If you’re a family caregiver, take a moment of your time to care for yourself – paying attention to yourself will go a long way and help you to become a better all-around family caregiver.