Providing care for an aging loved one can be challenging and stressful. Many family caregivers also work outside the home, and it can become overwhelming trying to achieve a comfortable work/life balance. Caregivers generally take on several significant roles: scheduling appointments, providing emotional support, helping with medications, managing finances, providing meals, and keeping the home clean and safe. If you are having trouble balancing caregiving, work, and other responsibilities there are some approaches you can take to ease the strain and lighten the burden.
Research Employer Policies and Programs
Look through your employee manual and speak with your human resources department to explore options. Talk to your manager to find out if your company has policies in place or benefits available to help you manage work and caregiving. You can find out if you are able to access:
- Flex time – If your company allows flex time, your employee handbook should define it. Typically, there are core hours you must be at work, and then you create your schedule around those hours.
- Job sharing – When two people work part-time to share a job that is normally held by one full-time employee.
- Telecommuting – If your job permits it, telecommuting allows you to work from another location, such as your home or your loved one’s home.
- Employee assistance programs – These programs can help employees deal with challenges that may affect their work and often include referrals to services in the community.
Don’t be afraid to sit down with your supervisor or human resources representative to discuss your situation. Think about your company’s policies and what supports you might want to pursue to help you better manage your responsibilities. Full disclosure about your situation often opens doors to new ideas or possibilities you may not have realized were available.
You may be doing everything you can do to balance work and caregiving, but it still may seem unmanageable to handle alone. Here are some potential options to consider:
- Adult day centres – These centres offer social activities in a safe environment. They often provide personal care, medical care, transportation, and meals.
- Referral services – There are many local and provincial agencies on aging that can help you find programs and services in your area. You can also ask your loved one’s doctor for referrals or speak to a social worker about providing support and advocacy.
- Discuss with family – Find out if other family members are willing to pitch in to lighten the load. If you need help with certain tasks, you can address those first to see if they fit with other family members’ interests and skillsets.
- Home Care Assistance – Professional home caregivers can offer respite care assistance to fill in whenever needed. Home care providers are able to deliver personal and hygiene care, medication management, housekeeping assistance, and much more. Home caregivers offer ongoing physical, mental, and emotional support for better health.
Periodic Breaks are Normal
All caregivers must take time for themselves for enjoyment and relaxation. Take time to sleep, go for coffee with a friend, and eat some healthy meals. Maintaining your own mental and physical health is crucial to avoiding burnout or compassion fatigue.