Many people prefer to keep their aging parents at home rather than relocate them to a comprehensive care center. Today, it’s easier than ever to prepare your house for a wheelchair and medical equipment.
But caring for your parents at home can make life a little difficult for you sometimes, especially when you are the primary caregiver. You may need an occasional break—a vacation away from the stresses of daily nursing, complex pill schedules, and caring for your parents’ needs.
Don’t keep putting off your vacation. Your parents would want you have a few days rest from time to time, even if they can’t communicate that to you now. Use our vacation preparation checklist to prepare your parents (and their substitute caregivers) for your time away.
1. Talk to Your Parents
Someone once said, “Growing old isn’t for sissies,” and it’s true. Becoming weak, tired, and frequently ill are natural parts of aging. But getting older is no walk in the park, and your parents have a lot to deal with. Emotions may sometimes run high as constant care and poor health take their toll. Your aging parents may respond poorly to changes in routine and may have a difficult time regulating their emotions.
As soon as you make plans for your vacation, talk to your parents about your trip. This conversation will give your parents time to adjust to any changes that could take place over the next few days. Communicate clearly what you plan to do to make the transition smooth and easy, and allow them to have a say in what they would like to have happen while you’re away.
As you communicate and make plans together, you’ll show your love and concern for your parents. This talk can also help you deal with any guilt you may feel for leaving them (which is natural, by the way, but don’t dwell on those feelings. A few days away is just fine!).
2. Choose a Trustworthy Nurse
While you’re away, you may consider relocating your parents to a care home where they can receive around-the-clock care and constant supervision. This facility might be a good option if your parents suffer from dementia or have a serious medical condition. Contact your local respite service for more information.
If you decide to keep your parents at home, you can hire a home nurse to assist your parents. A registered nurse can help with everything from medications to bathing, meals, and even transportation. You can even find someone who is available around the clock if needed.
A hospice agency can help you find a qualified health care professional. You may want to ask the following questions when interviewing the hospice group:
- Can the caretaker help more than one person at a time (if both of your parents are home)?
- How are caretakers screened and trained?
- How much does around-the-clock care cost?
- What procedures do caretakers follow in the case of an emergency?
An agency can provide you with a competent, honest, and kind caretaker.
3. Organize Critical Information for the Caretaker
After you’ve selected a skilled and trustworthy caretaker, review critical information about your parents’ care with him or her. The caretaker will be extremely thorough in reviewing this information, so make sure you’ve compiled everything in an organized way.
The most critical information regards your parents’ medical needs. Create a pill schedule and clearly label all medications. Place the pills in a location where the caretaker can access them easily. Review this medication schedule with your parents’ doctor before giving it to the caretaker.
You should also write down information about the house. Include instructions about how to operate the stair lift and any other accessibility equipment. Walk through the house with the caretaker and show him or her where to find the breaker so the electricity can be turned off during the night if necessary.
Include your contact information, as well as contact information for your neighbors. In case of an emergency, you want the caretaker to reach people who can help, especially if you’re not available.
4. Arrange for Someone to Drop By
Before you leave, ask a friend or family member to drop in occasionally. These visits will help your parents feel loved and appreciated while you’re away. A loved one dropping by unannounced can also help the caretaker should your parents struggle with any issues during your absence.
You should enjoy your vacation and some much-needed time away, but it might be nice to call once a day, talk with your parents for a few minutes, and make sure that everything is going well.
As you prepare your parents and their substitute caretaker for your vacation, you can have peace of mind while you travel. You need a few days of rest, and don’t worry—hospice, friends and family, and modern conveniences will help while you’re away.
Enjoy your vacation! You deserve it.