What is respite care and how do I get it?

Respite care is "time out" for the caregiver.  It's the caregiver's time to replenish, rejuvenate and relax.  It may be an afternoon, a day, a week or two or even a month.  It can be a vacation away or a sta-cation at home where someone else is the primary caregiver and you're free to do whatever you want or need to do.  You can hire a caregiver to come in or bring in a family member or trusted friend to cover for you while you take a much needed break.  There are long term care facilities that provide respite services and will care for your loved one for a period of time in their facility. 

My loved one doesn’t want anyone else but me to care for them, how do I change that?

Explain to your loved one what you've just learned.  That self care is paramount and that there will be times when you will need to have someone else take care of them.  Your commitment to your loved one should be, ensuring that they receive the best care possible.  That may mean, you are not the person to provide that care or you are no longer the person to provide that care.  A candid, loving conversation will go a long way in easing their fears.  Knowing that you will still be there for them is important.   

How can I get my family to help out?

Start with being honest about the caregiving situation.  Explain to them what is going on and what the needs of the care recipient are.  Ask them to help out by spending time with your loved one or taking on specific tasks.    If the needs are high, starting a Share the Care Group can be very helpful.  A caregiver coach can assist in mediating discussions when communication amongst family members is difficult.

How do I maintain my own sense of identity and carve out a life for myself while caregiving?

Newsflash.  Being a caregiver is what you do for your loved one, it is not who you are.  Your loved one needs you to continue being you while you are caring for them.  They need you to maintain your identity and continue doing the things that bring you joy.  When the caregiver is happy, the care recipient tends to be happy. Carving out time for yourself gives you something interesting to share and keeps things from revolving around illness or incapacitation. 

Am I being selfish, when I complain about how hard this is?

Caregiving is in the same category as marriage and parenting.  It's likely one of the most difficult undertakings you will encounter.  There may be many days when it is hard.  Acknowledge the difficulty but don't wallow in it.   No, you are not being selfish when you complain, you are being human.  Do not complain to the care recipient.  Seek out help, find a caregiver coach and get help with your caregiving responsibilities.  Energy flows where the attention goes.  Savor the moments that are sweet and wallow in that.

How do I make caring for myself a priority when my loved one needs me constantly?

2) Making self a priority while caregiving is not only necessary, it is non negotiable. You cannot adequately care for someone else if you are not taking care of self.  Neglecting yourself in the name of caring for someone else is simply self sabotage.  Taking care of yourself is a decision that you make.  Once the decision is made, you then set a conscious intention to do the things that you must do for you.  Starting with daily prayer, meditation.  Exercising can be as simple as taking a 20 minute daily walk in your neighborhood.   Create time to continue to do the things you love. 

How Did I Get Here? I never signed up for this assignment.

Many caregivers never saw it coming, while others have clear indications and ignore the signs.  Still others, knew that should the need arise, they would indeed rise to the occasion and take on the task.  Now that you are here, close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath.  Know that you are equipped and have all of the essential tools needed to take on the task.  You also have the heart, inner strength and will to care.  You're at the TCG website so you have now accessed the resources that will help you navigate the complex, challenging arena of caregiving.

How do I make caring for myself a priority when my loved one needs me constantly?