3 Things a Caregiver Seeking Time Away Should Never Say

Have you ever been struck by waves of guilt when you're on a rare outing with family and friends, away from the responsibilities of caregiving?

Here are three common things caregivers say that feed that guilt:

  • "This is wrong!"

Feeling guilty for enjoying yourself isn't a sign that you shouldn't be doing so; rather, it's a sign of how well-intentioned you are and how much you care.

  • "What if something goes wrong?"

In fact, anything might go wrong; that's what happens in life. Things could go wrong even if you were at home.

  • "What if I'm needed?"

You might be -- after all, you're needed 24/7, which is why you're getting away! Trust that those standing in for you can handle anything, maybe not the same way you would, or as well -- but competently. That's good enough, for a short time.

Recognize guilt for what it is. Name it. And remind yourself that, like the stress of being "on" all the rest of the time, it's a perfectly normal side effect of a strange phase of life.


over 1 year ago, said...

very good article,it helped me a lot. I was thinking of going to my kids for two months but though my sister is ready to take care of my mom i am feeling guilty and not ready to go. on reading i will plan going out thank u very much


almost 3 years ago, said...

This article served to remind me to do what I intellectually know but emotionally struggle with - especially when my husband goes to respite twice a month.


over 3 years ago, said...

Thanks CA-Clare for the suggestion for next time I want to get away and for the reminder and encouragement. This seems to fit with one of her symptoms: the inability to reckon with the concepts of time, space and distance. This is why she no longer travels well. She thinks her sister is right around the corner when in fact her sister is 1,200 miles away. If we go anywhere and are in the car for more than a few minutes, especially if we are on a freeway, she tells me we are lost and I don't know where I am going. Annoying and sadly frustrating. But we press on with life, such as it is. She sleeps more these days....I just let her go, telling myself she needs the rest. But then I feel selfishness because I get peace and time to do what is necessary to carry on. Whoops! Vent time!


over 3 years ago, said...

Hi gorillagaurd - So happy for you that you were able to attend a family event while one of your wife's good friends was able to stay with her. Please remember that it is the disease which is beating up on you for this, not your dear wife. It might have been that her friend kept telling her exactly where you were each time she asked. When you try this again, and you NEED to take breaks like this, coach the person to just say that you ran an errand and will be back soon. Hopefully soon your wife will forget that you were gone, and life will be back to the current 'normal'.


over 3 years ago, said...

I am my wife's full time care giver. She is in the later stages of the mid stage of AD. Recently her oldest and dearest friend visited us for eight days. A family reunion (my family) had been scheduled for the week end during which my wife's friend was visiting. My wife encouraged me to go to the reunion while she stayed home and caught up with her friend. So I went to the reunion by myself and had a wonderful weekend socializing without worry with my family members, many of whom I had not seen in years. When I got home two nights later, it was like hitting a hornet;s nest. My sick wife hurled insulting comments toward me and my family and accused me and her friend of conspiring so I could go away alone without her. I paid, and am continuing to pay, the price of a weekend to myself. But it was worth it and I feel no guilt.


over 3 years ago, said...

Thank you Paula for these phrases and the answers to give ourselves. These are not the complete feelings of caregiving when we are away from our Loved Ones, but they are the troublesome ones. Thank you!


almost 4 years ago, said...

I believe the author in living in La la land and demonstrates no understanding of caregiving for a loved one,,,Yea right turn off all your enoki on and proceed blithely as if nothing is wrong. Nice fantasy, but nothing to do with the reality we "sole" gcaregivers live. I note she "helped care for both parents". The sole care giver leads a 24x7 life of commitment. Describing feelings and concerns about your LO while you're away from responsibility as guilt is a misnomer an somewhat insulting. I prefer to describe my feelings as I miss my love. If I didn't have concerns vow my DW's well being, I don't think I'd be much of a member of the human race


about 4 years ago, said...

I say these things all the time!


about 4 years ago, said...

Although my Mom has passed, I'm still in contact with many full and part time caregivers. I know that I still learn from their experiences and I find comfort in being able to share my knowledge with them . Some are just beginning this journey.Prayers for all in need today. Bobbie♥


about 4 years ago, said...

My Dad lives in an Retirement Apt Building...RN on staff..all meals prepared, laundry done for him..etc..lots for him to do..yet independent enough..he is in Moderate to sever stage at this time...I have 3 sisters and we were "suppose" to help each other out checking in with Dad on a daily basis, as we do not want any issues that may arise and have him need to be moved to a nursing home right now..I am currently doing 4 days a week..my sister who lives 1 hr away does the other 2..my sister ( who had the relationship with my Dad..I NEVER DID) sees him about once a month , lives 5 mins from him ..yet my other sister goes on vacation 2- 3 times a year and that leaves me with 7 days a week..I had to move into a motel for a week, while new floors were being laid in my home...I had both dogs with me, and they could not be left alone in the motel..so I took this as "my vacaton" I have not had ONE holiday in 4 yrs now since Dad has needed so much care,,yet I was told by my sister..the one who does 2 days a week..." You did not need to use this past week as a vacaton from Dad..you are not pulling your weight"...I never had a relationship with my Dad..only my Mom, and I promised her I would take care of Dad on her death bed..I am doing this for her..not HIM..never liked him, and like him less now...so why do I feel so guilty????..are you allowed to Love someone and still not like them?


over 4 years ago, said...

I have just recently realized that the rare times I "get away" I need to leave my phone OFF. Yes, I am going to trust those who are standing in to handle anything - I know they are capable.


over 4 years ago, said...

As the time slowly grinds away,I have only had one occasion when I left my love one.The Hospice sent a lady round to sit with Margaret whilst I did whatever I could to give me some respite.I would of normally jumped at the chance ( in my mind ), but when the chance came, I really felt awful about jumping on my bike and only doing a 10 minute ride. I had intended to go for at least half an hour, but couldn't bear the fact that I was on my own. This probably means that when I am truly on my own, I will fall apart, even though I think of myself as being a strong person,. The Hospice are trying again at the weekend to have a volunteer call by, to be honest, I don't know how I'm going to handle it ( Can't ride the bike with tears streaming down my face ),,,Is it Guilt, I don't know,,,emotions are very strange senses...love you all PINK GIN


about 5 years ago, said...

It's hard not to feel guilty and it's hard not to feel resentful. I find when I get to the point of complete frustration and depression, it's definately time to get a way. A short bike ride to a friends house usually does the trick for me. But we do need a respite period. We can't help if we wear ourselves down. A break is refreshing for the patient AND the caregiver!


about 5 years ago, said...

Hello Heartbroken ­Child, Thank you very much for your comment. I'm so sorry to hear about your situation, that sounds very difficult. If you'd like, you can post your question in our Ask & Answer section here: ( http://www.caring.com/ask ). Take care -- Emily | Community Manager


about 5 years ago, said...

There are so many emotions that caregivers feel, including guilt. My Mom has Alzheimers and even though Dad is her primary caregiver, I am involved quite a bit, hoping to help and ensure that someone looks after Dad as well. I love my parents so much and it hurts to see them go through this. One thing I am struggling with so badly is that Mom doesn't always realize that Dad is my Dad, her husband of 55 years. She has days where she is so confused about who he is, she even seems distrusting and at times a little frightened; she has completely forgotten her home of 30 plus years where they still reside and always wants to go home, wherever that might be in her mind. It is so hard to comfort and reassure her that Dad is who he is, that home is her home, and that she is safe. She knows at times that her mind is fading and she gets scared. Can anyone offer me suggestions on how I can handle things with this differently?


about 5 years ago, said...

Guilt is an awful thing. I know I have to leave my husband and take time for myself, but the hardest part is not leaving, it's coming back. He always says "I thought you were lost or not coming back" and nothing I say seems to console him. Hugs to Bobbie and Help my Dad.