I've been taking care of my husband since December/2019. I know I need a break, but I can't help but feel guilty. Did I do the right thing? It was unsettling to just drop him off at the front entrance and not even able to accomodate him to his room because of COVID restrictions. I got highly emotional and broke down in the parking lot. He will be there for 5 nights without any visitations whatsoever from family or friends.
I realize that I know I'm not the only one who has gone through this.

Find Care & Housing
5 days will be over in the blink of an eye, in reality, so don't waste 5 minutes of the precious off time you do have feeling a useless emotion like guilt. Even God rested on the 7th day. Not expecting yourself to have any time off in years, months, weeks and days of constant care giving is unrealistic and quite dangerous, in fact. What would happen to your husband if YOU were to die first, which happens in many such care giving cases?

After you go pick him up from respite, make reservations for his next stay so you'll have something to look forward to.
Helpful Answer (16)
Reply to lealonnie1

I always try to encourage people to give up the word "guilt". Guilt is for felons who do evil with knowledge aforethought. Guilt assumes that there is a CURE for them if they have a "come to Jesus" moment or some such. What you are feeling is GRIEF. Grief over having to leave your husband in the care of another because you simply cannot go on. Grief that you are not a Saint and cannot make him better. Grief that you are losing him, and he is at risk, and he is unhappy. Grief is something that cannot be fixed. You must mourn. And that is what you were doing in the parking lot. I think you have likely some anticipatory grief also. You are losing the one you love while he is still with you. You have lost the ability to communicate with him and make him understand. And you surely must know that there is coming a time when he must go into care permanently because you cannot go on. Please recognize and accept your limitations. Try to accept that he cannot understand much as the 2 year old you leave off at child care cannot, and there will be tears and unhappiness for you both. But then try to get on with some quality of time. If every second that you now have off duty is spent in mourning then you are giving yourself no break at all. I am so sorry. I am so very sorry. This is painful. There is no easy answer. Not everything can be fixed. You are doing your best.
Helpful Answer (15)
Reply to AlvaDeer
Cascia Sep 28, 2020
that's a great answer however not so easy to do - I wish it were easier- my dad was in hospice where we visited every day as much as we wanted for 2 1/2 months - now he is in rehab I think better for him socially but it's grueling I have only seen him for 30 minutes in over a week. I want him home but my mom is 85 and I am an only child with very little support- I can hire people but that will not be easy either - I am a mess.
For those of us who have been caregivers to a LO with dementia, guilt seems to be the prevailing emotion. It shouldn't be. The difference between a caregiver and a great caregiver is the great ones know their limits of caring. Few of us are the great ones. I know I wasn't. There's a point where we just can't go on w/o some relief. 5 days to yourself is wonderful. Going beyond one's caregiving limit can result in becoming synical, totally stressed out, and neglecting the needs of our LOs. The guilt comes from thinking we should do more when, in fact, we shouldn't. He'll be OK and because of his "vacation", you will be too. You've made the right decision. I know it's hard, it's emotional, but it's necessary for your wellbeing.

I wish you well.
Helpful Answer (15)
Reply to sjplegacy

I placed my Husband in Respite while I took my first vacation in 6 years.
I was a basket case.
I worried that he would be so used to institutional living that I might not be able to bring him home.
I was worried that if something did happen I was a half a world away and I would not get to him in time.
I was worried that he would forget who I was (I was not sure if he knew who I was anyway)
I was worried that I did not really know who I was without someone to care for, could I have fun, could I enjoy myself and not feel guilty that I was doing this without him. (even before he had dementia he would have hated this trip, he would have gone for me but he would not have enjoyed it)

I had no need to worry.
He came home, walked in and went and sat in his recliner like he always did.
Nothing major happened.
I did have a good time.
I came home more relaxed. We both fell into the same routine.
By the way I was gone for almost 3 weeks...your 5 nights will pass quickly, more quickly than you can imagine.
Enjoy your time away. No one can be "on the job" 24/7. You need this break.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Grandma1954
mally1 Sep 30, 2020
Nice going Grandma!
I totally can empathize. It feels like you're abandoning the person you love. But I will say that exhaustion takes all of your negative feelings and escalates them 100-fold.
Try and take advantage of this time to catch up on some rest. I know the feeling is while you have the time, "let me clean the house, and catch up on laundry, and run all my errands, etc.", but this is time for you to recuperate! You will be a much better, more caring, more empathetic, more efficient caregiver is you use this time to get some much-needed rest.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to notgoodenough

I understand. However, your health is equally important... physical and mental. 24/7 caregiving to a family
member is not the same as working a shift and going home for the night or weekend. You need this break.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Sunnydayze

SP2020, you have not abandoned him, 5 days for you is such a short time in the grand scheme of things.

Can I suggest that you take this time to get rested and do some things that help you feel fulfilled and good. Then when you bring him home, find a housekeeper that can do the house 2x a month and find a companion sitter to come in every other week for as many hours as you can afford or whatever is free from local services and do some things for you.

Being the best you takes effort, you must create chances to enrich you so you can be the best caregiver possible.

Great big warm hug!🤗
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Is this a place you would consider for him later, when it becomes even harder for you to care for him at home? If so, it wouldn't hurt for him to get used to it....
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to mally1
SP2020 Oct 1, 2020
No, it is not the place I would consider for him later in his life. It was offered through hospice care.
SP, there may be another way to view this.   Your husband will have more people to care for him, and hopefully the care will be good.   If he's outgoing, he may be able to interact with them, create some short term bonds, and really benefit from the respite care.

You also should consider that you're doing perhaps the best thing you can to ensure that you're still able to care for him, by taking time for yourself.  

I understand becoming emotional; I don't know of anyone who wouldn't under the circumstances.  It's a reflection of how much you care.   

I'm assuming that he has access to a phone, and you can call him periodically?
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to GardenArtist

Be thankful you can bring him home in 5 days. It's breaking my heart that I had to admit my husband, age 68, to a facility due to his Alzheimers, which has progressed over the past 4 years. He keeps asking to come home, and the GUILT I'm going through is overwhelming. On the other hand, I find my physical health improving from not having the stress of 24/7 caregiving, without help. Due to Covid, in home care is almost impossible, since our local places can't hardly keep staff employees, and it was impossible to get on call help as needed. I pray to God for strength, comfort, and that my husband gets the comfort and care that he needs. This is a costly move, but he's getting the best care that I can't give him. Sadly, some family and friends disagree with my decision to place him in a facility "so soon", but they're not here 24/7 to see what a caregiver has to go through. Please continue to pray every day. It really helps. God Bless you and your family.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to lovepat69
SP2020 Oct 1, 2020
I'm so sorry. I completely identify with what you're going through. It was heart wrenching for me to listen to my husband ask me, "are you coming to pick me up?", "are you on your way?". This was the same day I dropped him off. I cried and cried, but I really needed the break and taxing activities from day to day from caregiving. I don't have any help as well. I am his sole caregiver.
See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter