By Talia Giordano, MSW, LSW
During the warmer months, many caregivers may wonder “Will I get a vacation this year?” Coordinating vacations can be difficult, especially if you are a caregiver to a transplant patient. It is common for caregivers to have fears about taking a transplant patient on vacation far from their primary care doctor, transplant team and pharmacy. Caregivers may also feel guilt when taking a vacation without the patient. A vacation can be vital for many people because it allows for relaxation from a hectic schedule. It also can allow a caregiver to regroup and re-energize for whatever their tasks are when they return. Below are some tips that may be helpful when planning for time away.
- Talk to the medical team and ask for resources – The medical team may have suggestions for prescriptions or other medical issues you may encounter while you and the patient are away. Your medical team may also be able to direct you to medical assistance in the area to where you will be traveling. Lastly, if you are traveling without the patient, it is important to inform the medical team that you will be away and that someone else will be assisting the patient during your absence.
- Talk with friends, family and other support systems – Similar to talking with the patient’s medical team, it is important you let your support systems know of your plans so they can step in to assist as needed. Caregivers sometimes find it difficult to ask others for help, but your friends and family want to help, they just may not know how. Be specific with your requests – don’t just say “I could really use your help while I’m away.” Instead ask, “Would you be able to help me by taking [the transplant patient] to their doctor appointment at [this time].” Being specific about your needs will give you relief, knowing certain tasks are being handled, and it will help others to understand exactly how they can help.
- Take time off even if you can’t take a vacation – Many caregivers feel that time off needs to be spent taking care of the patient and this is untrue. All caregivers must take time for themselves to relax. Even if you are unable to take a vacation you may be able to take a “staycation.” A “staycation” is when you take time off for yourself and stay local. During this time you can still do things you love and plan for local trips to museums, parks, or events in your area.
- RELAX! – A vacation is a time for you to relax, re-energize and regroup. Use these tips to plan ahead so that during your time off you can focus on yourself. Enjoy the people, places and things you love and HAVE FUN!
For more information, email CaregiverLifeline@GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org