Taking a break

It can be difficult to find time for yourself when you are caring for a person with dementia. When you do manage to get time to yourself, you may want to use it to catch up with other tasks such as housework or managing finances. However, it is important to take breaks and continue to do things that you enjoy so that you don’t become overwhelmed. This could include having some ‘time out’ during the day to do a crossword or go for a coffee, having a break (when someone else is looking after the person or they are at a day center), or going on holiday.

By taking regular breaks you may find yourself better able to support yourself and the person you care for. It can be hard to take a break from caring and you may feel guilty, but all caregivers deserve a break and you will feel better for it.

You don’t have to take long breaks from caring, but a short time to enjoy yourself could make a difference. Try to schedule in something you enjoy every day, whether it is on your own or with the person you care for. By having a break, the person with dementia may also get to experience new things and have a break from their routine. Types of break might include:

  • having a cup of tea, reading the paper, listening to music, or going for a walk
  • looking at photos together
  • going out for a coffee or drink
  • meeting a friend or going shopping to get out of the house
  • pursuing interests, hobbies and activities that you find enjoyable and give you a change from your caring role; this may help you to feel less isolated as well
  • having a short holiday, whether it is a few days or a week.

Coming back to the relationship refreshed will be good for you and the person you care for. You could ask friends or family if they can help out – it may be for a couple of hours or they may be willing to look after the person for a few days. There may be local day services available, or you may be able to arrange for respite care. If you don’t have friends or family who can help, or you are struggling to take a break, talk to your Doctor or local social services as they may be able to help.