We all do. Most people recognize the importance of time off, but it may be more important in maintaining one’s health than we realize. A study done by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and State University of New York at Oswego found that among 12,000 research subjects at high risk of heart disease, those who took regular vacations were eight times less likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack.*
For caregivers, many of whom are on 24/7, time off is critical in order to maintain one’s mental and physical well-being. But getting time off as a caregiver is usually quite difficult either because of financial constraints, lack of alternative caregivers, or feelings of guilt about leaving a loved one.
Fortunately, there are some programs that can help with some of these barriers.
For full-time unpaid family caregivers, there is a non-profit organization called Caregifted, which provides all-expense paid getaways to these caregivers. You can learn more about this program at www.caregifted.org.
In Massachusetts, the Home Care program and the Adult Family Care program both provide paid respite for caregivers. To learn more about either of these programs, call Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services’ Aging Information Department at 617-628-2601, ext. 3151 or visit the website.
For people who are unable to physically get away, Patty M. Kearns, author of Lessons in the Divine for Caregivers, a Spiritual Buffet for The Totally Exhausted, offers wonderfully practical and inspiring advice in taking mental breaks throughout the day at www.strengthforcaring.com.
*Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 62: pages 608-612, 2000