07/08/2013 01:08 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2013

Alzheimer's Caregivers: Taking Vacations Is Possible

With summer in full swing, it's that time of year when many people try to take some much needed "R&R." However, while some simply have to work around kids' sports schedules and work commitments, for those who act as caregivers to Alzheimer's patients, they have a whole new set of complexities to figure out before they can hit the beach.

There are millions of people worldwide who act as caregivers to Alzheimer's patients, and many of these people have resigned to the notion that as such, they are unable to take time to themselves to go on vacation. This is entirely untrue. It is possible for busy Alzheimer's caregivers to take time for their own vacations. In fact, it is often encouraged as these over-worked, over-stressed caregivers are frequently in need of a relaxing vacation in order to clear their minds, recharge and come back as more attentive caregivers.

It is essential that caregivers take vacations to relieve themselves from their responsibilities and improve their own emotional and mental health and well-being. The healthier, happier and more relaxed the caregiver is, the better off the individual with Alzheimer's will be. However, this doesn't mean that planning for vacation time as an Alzheimer's caregiver is always easy. Here are some tips to remember when planning a vacation to help make the entire process easier.

Finding a Support Caregiver

Many times the biggest thing preventing caregivers from taking a vacation is their belief that no one else can care for their loved one in the way they can. Even if this is true, it doesn't mean that no one else is able to sufficiently care for them while you recharge. Finding a support caregiver and working with them before you leave is a great way to ensure that others can effectively step in from time to time. Transitioning to the support member gradually while you are still present will help your patient become comfortable with the support caregiver.

Dismissing Fear

There are many caregivers who will avoid vacations because they live in fear that something will happen while they are gone and that they will harbor a great deal of guilt about the situation. Getting into the right mindset and remembering that many of these things would happen with or without you there is an important exercise to do before leaving on vacation.

Letting Yourself Relax

It is important as a caregiver that you allow yourself to relax from time to time. Remember that as a caregiver you deserve time to yourself and that you are doing this to make yourself a better caretaker for your loved one. Not taking care of yourself will only harm your loved one in the end.

As an Alzheimer's caregiver, it may be difficult to arrange for and enjoy a vacation, but that doesn't mean that vacationing is impossible or that you can't take the time to relax from your overwhelming responsibilities and truly unwind.

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