As a caregiver, do you take your own intermittent or regular breaks from looking after your aging loved one? This act of self-care is known as respite but is often an unknown factor for many caregivers. Such individuals may not believe that respite is necessary, explain that they do not have the time, or feel that respite is complicated.
With having previously cared for my own aging mother and father, I can assure you that respite does not have to be difficult. One of the easiest things I did, in fact, was to write – the very act of putting words to paper proved to be very therapeutic for me. Writing proved to be a means of escape where I could privately vent about or publicly share what I was going through. Having a means to manage meant I did not keep everything bottled up inside of me.
If you choose to write, you don’t have to be an accomplished author or dream up eloquent prose. I believe that, in this case, expressing yourself is far more important than the words you choose to use (be a little rough around the edges, by all means!). You could write about what you are facing and/or your resulting feelings. Another idea is to write a letter to your own parents where you can say what may have never been said – holding all of this inside you can easily lead to regret.
And writing isn’t just useful as respite during your caregiving years. Personally, I have continued to write long after my own parents have passed away and believe that my continually sharing helps both me to cope and manage as well as helps others who may read my words and learn from them. There is no one stopping you from writing for as long as you wish.
While you can sit down with your own computer at a desk at home, writing doesn’t have to be this restrictive. Writing can be a very mobile activity and therefore ideal for busy caregivers. Try grabbing your laptop to bring along when you pick up Mom/Dad or go “old-school” with a pen and notepad to take with you to use when you are waiting for your parent at the doctor’s office. On a warmer day, head to your local park, grab a bench to sit on, and write. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, begin writing about your park’s environment – what do you see, smell, and hear? What was your most recent caregiving experience? How did you feel during this experience? Once you get started with writing, the words will often flow more smoothly. Write for as little or as long as you wish and you may be surprised of how beneficial doing so can be. And, from my own involvement, I will also add that writing doesn’t cost you anything but time – and that time will be rewarding.
The best writing is uninterrupted, so try to find a quiet time for yourself. If you have a family of your own, getting some peace and quiet can be more difficult, but insist on this for yourself. It is not unreasonable for you to retire off to your home study, post a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, and close yourself in.