Along the way, primary caregivers for a beloved aging family member will develop some forms of stress or burnout. Caregivers can become so involved with the care of someone else that they to put their own health and needs on the backburner. If a caregiver doesn't find the time to tend to themselves they can eventually suffer from exhaustion, physical ailments, depression and isolation. Its is important for caregivers to recognize that they too need a break from time to time to focus on their needs and their own care.
The most important aspect caregivers must acknowledge is that caregiving is a complete separate part of their lives and long-term caregiving is just simply too much for one person to handle.
It's common for family caregivers to feel responsible for their aging loved ones and as a result, feel guilty about having to take time off to care for themselves. But family respite is not selfish; it's necessary. Research shows that caregivers who often ignore self care become ill themselves and caregivers who embrace respite are stronger, healthier and better able to care for their aged loved ones.
Family respite really hits home with me. My mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. My sister had just graduated college, but was insistent on putting off her career to take care of our mother. For a year and a half, my sister tended to my mother 24hrs a day, 7 days a week without any form of respite. Before my mother passed, my sister was beginning to become very isolated and depression soon came to be. She battled exhaustion daily and was becoming more and more withdrawn. After my mom passed, she began to experience physical ailments herself. Her doctor confirmed that it was due to extreme exhaustion and neglecting her health from being the primary caregiver for our mother. When my sister was asked to take some time for herself, she let guilt decide that she needed no rest. She mentions from time to time that if she had only taking a few hours to herself ,throughout the week, her health would not be in the condition it is now
If you are at that point where you know its time to take time for yourself, seek assistance. Its there.