Catch a break, already. It’s true that most caregivers tend to be overworked, but the 24/7 schedule of being a live-in caregiver can put you at a particularly high risk for burnout, says Marion Somers, Ph.D., the author of Elder Care Made Easier and the former director of Hunter College’s Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging, in New York City.
If your friends or family can’t commit to giving you time off every week, ask your local Area Agency on Aging about community resources, like adult day care, says Somers. Or hire a personal-care assistant, who is typically not a medical professional but someone who has experience with caregiving. Rates run around $10 to $25 an hour; you can find candidates through community senior and aging organizations. (You’ll also find resources for hiring in-home help by clicking on your state in the Family Care Navigator at caregiver.org.) If money is tight, ask local colleges that offer degrees in eldercare and nursing about interns.
In a perfect world, you would go on a one-week vacation every six months while another family member took your place. But if you can’t, “you should still do something that makes you feel good every single day, even if it’s only for 10 to 20 minutes,” says Brian D. Carpenter, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and an eldercare expert at Washington University, in St. Louis. “Bringing old routines and familiar pleasures to your new life can serve as a daily reprieve.”