It\’s Thursday and I\’m taking today and tomorrow off to give myself a long weekend mini-vacation.I need the time off. In fact, I\’m desperate for it! I\’ve earned it, I deserve it, I need it! Yet I\’m wracked with guilt. Not because I\’m not working. No, the main reason I\’m wracked with guilt is because going away means I won\’t be visiting my mother this weekend.

My mother has very advanced dementia and lives in a nursing home and I visit just about every weekend. In addition, I attend quarterly care meetings with the staff and periodic family member meetings. Between the train, the walks to and from the various train stations, and the visit itself, each visit takes about a half day. But I\’m happy to make the effort.

So, why, with all those visits, and even though my mother doesn\’t know who I am any more, do I feel so guilty when I miss a week?

Because, even though my mother doesn\’t know who I am, she still enjoys the company and because I know how important it is that the staff sees she has someone looking out for her. But the biggest reason is, as with a lot of caregivers, I feel guilty because I think I should visit often. As a result, even though we caregivers give so generously of our time and energy to others, even when we want (no, make that need) time for ourselves, we often don\’t take it – preferring instead to spend the time providing care to others – or beating our selves up that we\’re not!

However, studies have shown that spending time on ourselves makes us even more productive and, dare I say, happier. So, take a long weekend, a long, hot bath, or a night out with friends. In other words . . . give me – and you – a break!

© Copyright AgeWiseLiving® 2007 You can find information about Generational Coaching, AgeWiseLiving® seminars and free teleseminars, and to sign up for Barbara\’s free monthly newsletter at http://www.agewiseliving.com/ or by calling toll-free (877) AGE-WISE. Barbara E. Friesner is the country\’s leading Generational Coach and expert on issues affecting seniors and their families. She is an adjunct professor at Cornell University, where she created and teaches “Seniors Housing Management” at Cornell\’s School of Hotel Administration.