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Why Caregivers Need a Break

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenAugust 16, 2013

Joan Lunden’s Camp Reveille is in session and A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor Sara Dannettel is attending, along with our “Rest and Recharge” caregiver contest winner, Deborah Keys. Sarah provides insight into why it’s important for caregivers to get a much-needed break for a little self-rejuvenation.

What is the #1 rule of caregiving? The caregiver needs to take care of herself in order to be any good for the person she’s caring for on a daily basis. The problem is that many caregivers don’t do this; instead they put their loved ones’ first and start to get worn out, stressed and often—sick.

Camp Reveille: The “Rest & Recharge” Caregiver Getaway

Surrounded by the lovely ambiance of Naples, Main, where caregivers are finally given a chance to breathe and relax at Camp Reveille, expert Senior Living Advisor Sara Dannettel is reminded even more how crucial it is for caregivers to take a vacation from daily caregiving responsibilities and do a little self-nurturing:

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As an Advisor with A Place for Mom, I speak with caregivers every day and consistently our conversation leads to their admission of feeling guilty on multiple levels; feeling guilty for wanting a break, for not spending enough time with their kids or spouse, and for getting irritable with their loved one.

Caregivers often live within a routine of guilt and stress, which can have a negative impact on a person’s health and well-being, not to mention their role as a caregiver. It’s an emotionally draining cycle. As an Advisor, one of the ways I help families is simply letting the caregiver know that it’s okay to need a break, and it’s okay to put yourself first.  Living up to “superwoman” expectations is not only draining, it’s not healthy. 

I let people know there are options out there to give them a break.  Most feel there are only two options — home care or a nursing home, with nothing in between. When I tell people there are adult day care options as well as opportunities to have a loved one stay at a community for a few days or a week, I can hear them take a deep breath in relief. It’s important to understand that taking a break is not being selfish, it’s actually helping both the caregiver and their loved one.  

When the caregiver becomes irritable, overwhelmed and unhappy, the loved one senses it and often takes on negative emotions as well. It can become a draining cycle.  If you don’t take the steps to break the cycle—you are headed toward caregiver burnout and potentially some serious health risks.  Most people don’t make themselves a priority. I like to ask the caregivers I work with, “If you’re on an airplane and the oxygen mask drops, who are you going to give the mask to first?”  That is the bottom line.

Caregiver Wellness:
The Importance of Finding a Balance

Sara has worked with thousands of families and provides the voice of reason to many exhausted caregivers as she understands the importance of caregiver wellness. She will be looking forward to attending Camp Reveille’s “Caring for the Caregiver” session, one of many helpful breakout sessions where camp attendees can get helpful tips, advice and support from experts and fellow campers. Stay tuned for more advice from Camp Reveille and a post on “How To Avoid Caregiver Burnout.”

About Sara Dannettel ~

Senior Living Advisor, Serving: Phoenix, AZ
Sara has helped over 8,000 families since 2008
Email: sarad@aplaceformom.com
Phone: (866) 333-2609 or (623) 428-8914

Sara has enjoyed a successful career in sales, marketing, and management. She has also volunteered extensively in the non-profit sector as well. Sara feels that A Place for Mom is a company where a passion for helping others, hard work, and integrity, come together seamlessly.

A message from Sara:

“No one ever dreams of having to place a loved one in a facility, but in the world of caregiving, this is often a reality. Not only is the person with dementia aging, but the caregiver is aging as well and being able to provide an increasing level of care over many years may not be possible. Planning ahead, visiting different facilities, and listening to other caregiver’s opinions will give the caregiver a greater sense of control when and if the time for placement should arise. Do not wait for a crisis to occur.”

Have you experienced caregiver burnout? What tips do you have to share with our readers? We welcome comments below.

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Dana Larsen
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Dana Larsen
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