A Caregiver's Well-Deserved Staycation

As the primary caregiver for her husband with Alzheimer's, she struggled to take time for herself. But a restorative sanctuary was just blocks away.

Posted in , Apr 27, 2020

Luanne and husband Bob

It was a quaint house, less than two miles from our place. I pulled out my overnight bag and let myself in. I walked over to the couch and sat down. It felt like home. Except there was no hospital bed, wheelchair or medical supplies. No Bob.

At first, I’d managed to keep working and care for my husband. Then his Alzheimer’s progressed and I retired to care for him full-time. I declined invitations for a solo night out. I got help from volunteers, adult day centers and paid caregivers. But I was his primary caregiver.

Fast forward five years. Bob was now incontinent, mostly mute and losing mobility. I was exhausted. My social worker said, “Your home is like a hospital, Lu. It’s no longer your sanctuary.”

I thought of how Jesus would go off to a mountain by himself to pray. I needed to do that. But how?

I discovered there were homes in our neighborhood rented out by the day through Airbnb. Family members stayed overnight with Bob, filling the gaps between caregivers while I took a few days off. My social worker marveled at how these mini-vacations reenergized me.

If you’re a caregiver and think you can’t get away, think again. There are ways, maybe closer to home than you would expect.

That couch felt good. I reached into my bag and took out the novel I’d brought. I started reading. A weight lifted from my shoulders. Soon I was in another world, only a few minutes from home. I would return soon enough, but for now I needed this rest, this time and space, to restore my spirit. For my husband as much as for me.

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