As a caregiver for a family member, there is no doubt that you’ve heard how caregiving takes a significant toll on the emotional and physical well-being of caregivers. If you’ve served in this role for long, you’ve already begun to feel that toll. Devoted caregivers often find it impossible to take care of loved ones, especially a loved one who needs constant care, without neglecting themselves and, yet, neglecting yourself can come at a high price.

For this reason, one of the most frequent topics discussed when I have led caregiver support groups has been, “The importance of taking care of yourself.” After all, your loved one is depending on you to be there! In frustrated and exhausted tones, the question that has consistently followed is, “How do we do that?” The simple answer is that you can’t do it alone. Respite, or time away, is absolutely necessary. The need for assistance can present it’s own problems, however. Friends are not always available or supportive and paid help can over stretch the budget of many.

There are those caregivers, though, who possess something of great value – a long term care insurance policy. Long term care insurance can pay for part or all of the costs of home health care, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and adult day care, depending on the type of policy purchased. In spite of this, I often come in contact with people who are bearing the entire weight of caregiving independently, waiting to use their long term care insurance until it is absolutely necessary.

Saving your long term care insurance until you “must” use it can be like saving the good dishes for a special occasion that never comes. If by using your policy now, for in-home care or other respite, you can improve the quality of your life and/or the life of a loved one, why not benefit now from the premiums you’ve been paying for years? After all, you were smart enough to plan for a day when you would need long term care assistance – a day like today.

Things you can do during respite time:

1. Take a much needed nap.

2. Socialize with friends.

3. Spend quality time with other family members.

4. Pray/meditate/attend religious services.

5. Curl up with a good book.

6. Take a walk or participate in some other exercise.

7. Participate in a support group.

8. Go to your own doctor appointments.

9. Do something you’ve always enjoyed doing!

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