Q: I am a full-time caregiver for my mother.  How can I take a short break?

A: First, I want to congratulate you for being able to recognize that you need a break. Caregivers often get so busy caring for others that they forget to care of themselves. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Everyone needs help at times and it is not just okay, but healthy to ask for time for yourself. Unfortunately, many caregivers find it difficult to do this.

Caregivers may resist asking for help for a number of reasons, including:

  • Feeling they should be able to handle everything on their own.
  • Feeling that it is not right to leave your loved one with someone else
  • Feeling that no one will care for your loved one like you do.
  • Feeling that you will be bothering others if you ask for help.

Notice how all of those items begin with “feeling?” Feelings are always valid, but if you have trouble asking for help, try some of the following tips from the National Institute on Aging. Their advice helps you focus on empowerment through action:

  • Accept that it is okay to ask for help from family, friends and others. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do everything yourself.
  • Ask people to help in specific ways. Maybe ask one person to make a meal, one to come watch a show and someone else to take them for an outing.
  • Join a support group for advice and understanding from caregivers sharing your journey.
  • Arrange help through respite care.

Respite care is short-term relief for primary caregivers. It can be arranged for a single afternoon, several days or even several weeks. Respite care is available from numerous sources, including adult day care centers, family members, local assisted living facilities, and private duty care companies. Respite care can be provided from the comfort of home (if caregivers feel that is the best option), or in an alternate setting. Respite services typically either charge by the hour or by the number of days that the services are provided.

It’s true that most insurance plans do not cover respite services. But taking a break to prevent caregiver burnout is essential –so that you can continue to care for your loved one. To learn more, call me or the other Experts in Aging at One Senior Place in Viera or Altamonte Springs.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.