It’s March. We all feel it — the spring in our step when a 40 degree day hits followed by the dread the next day when it’s back down in the 20s and snowing. The daily pressures combined with the weather all starts to mound and we wish we could just get away for a week or maybe even a few days. It’s time for a vacation!

A vast majority of people don’t take vacations often enough. In fact, some never take them at all. If you are a caregiver, you probably fall into one of these categories due to the added planning that comes into play when thinking about a vacation. Don’t let that discourage you. Vacations keep us healthy by relieving stress and helping us reconnect with ourselves. They promote creativity, prevent burnout, increase job performance and can even strengthen bonds with our loved ones. So, hop on that scheduling and take your own spring break.

Here are some tips for caregivers when planning for a vacation:

If your loved one lives with you:

Coordinate your trip with another family member who can take over responsibilities while you are away. If that’s not possible, other options are to hire in-home or residential Respite Care. Factors to consider are costs as well as the health needs of your loved ones.

If your loved one lives in a retirement community, assisted living or skilled nursing facility:

Make sure the community where they reside is aware of your plans. Give the staff contact numbers and an itinerary as well as a local contact that can take care of any small issues that might come up while you are away.

If your loved one relies on your assistance:

For transportation, shopping, meal preparation, medication management or other aspects of their care you normally manage, sort these details in advance or ask someone else to perform these tasks while you are away.

If your loved one will be joining you on vacation:

Make sure to bring a list of medications as well as physician’s contact information in case of an emergency. Be sure to allow adequate time for rest and relaxation. Remember that one person’s idea of a vacation may be to lounge at the pool while someone else might want to shop till they drop. Take time for yourself so you come home rested instead of feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation.If your loved one has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact the Alzheimer’s Association to discuss travel tips.

If your loved one doesn’t join you on vacation:

Drop them a postcard while away and take plenty of pictures to share with them when you return to keep them feeling involved. Besides, sharing the memories of your trip is a great way to spend time with your loved ones.

The bottom line is that taking a good amount of time away from the daily stresses of life can give us the much needed break mentally and physically for us to return refreshed and better equipped to handle whatever challenges life might throw our way.

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education

Skilled Nursing for Dementia 
Chicago Senior Services

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