Keep Giving Yourself Breaks -- Right to the End

Resist the temptation to hang around your loved one's bed 24/7, even if he or she has recently taken a turn for the worse. Many caregivers are loath to risk missing a new health crisis or death itself. Instead, they risk their own mental and physical health. You still need daily breaks, right to the end. (Perhaps more than ever in the ultra-stressed final stages of disease.)

Could something happen while you're away? Yes. And it's healthy to get comfortable with that possibility, for everyone's sake. Interesting factoid: Hospice workers believe that the dying choose their moment of death, often when loved ones have just stepped out of the room, in order to spare them the experience. So while we're worried about leaving the dying alone, the reality may be that they're worried about taking care of us.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio