Do you provide care for an aging parent or other loved one? Are you struggling to keep your head afloat between caregiver duties and work? Balancing work and family caregiver responsibilities while trying to maintain a personal life can be a nearly impossible task, but utilizing these tips can help lessen the burden.
1. Use a Calendar
Think about your schedule. You’re a busy person. You work, you care for a loved one, and you try to maintain a social life. Blocking out your schedule on a calendar can help you determine when you can provide care and when you will need help.
If you are sharing care responsibilities with other family members or friends, a shared calendar can be especially beneficial. The calendar should include the schedules of all caregivers, including work and other engagements, in order to recognize when care can be provided. Appointments and bill due dates for your loved one should be included, along with the specific times they require care.
2. Share the Responsibilities
If you haven’t already discussed sharing caregiver duties with other family members and friends, now is the time. Even if some can only provide care sparingly, having a mix of individuals in the caregiving schedule can facilitate respite and shared responsibilities.
After consulting with all family members, ask them to add their schedules to the shared calendar. If there are any times when no one can provide necessary care, you may need to consider hiring a part-time caregiver to supplement your family caregiver schedule.
3. Plan Ahead
What will you do if you get called into work? Who will provide care if your sister is sick? Who should be called in an emergency? Make a contingency plan for when “what if” happens. Include any “what if” you can think of, especially common ones such as extreme weather and caregiver illness.
Being prepared with a backup plan that all caregivers are aware of can decrease stress in unexpected situations. You won’t have to worry about mom being alone on a stormy winter day or dad missing medications when your brother is sick, because the backup plan will be implemented.
4. Consider Financial Outcomes
If you’re considering decreasing work hours to provide more care, take a look at your finances first. Consider the amount of income you would lose by decreasing your work hours.
Do some research on the cost of hiring a supplemental caregiver or utilizing an adult day center nearby during your work hours. Depending on your situation, the financial outcome of one choice may be much more desirable.
5. Company Policy
Read your employee handbook and talk to your human resources department about existing company policies that may help your situation. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may provide you with unpaid time off in the case of a family member requiring care. This will protect your position in the company while allowing you time to care for your loved one and determine a more workable care schedule.
Some workplaces have implemented flextime, in which there are required core work hours surrounded by a range of flexible hours. If this is an option in your office, you may be able to start earlier or end later in the workday to better care for your loved one. You may also have the opportunity to work from home on occasion. Talk to your manager or human resources department about telecommuting options.
6. Don’t Forget About Yourself
If you don’t take breaks on a regular basis, you’ll likely suffer from caregiver burnout and end up ill or injured. Be sure to take breaks, schedule regular medical check-ups, and get plenty of rest.
Make space in your schedule to do the things you enjoy without interruption from work or caregiver duties. While taking care of your loved one and taking care of your job, don’t forget to also take care of yourself.