4 Ways to Manage Work and Caregiving
Six out of 10 caregivers report having experienced one or more impacts to their employment situation due to their caregiving responsibilities according to the AARP’s “Caregiving in the USA” report for 2015. These consequences can include everything from having to cut their hours to being reprimanded for poor performance or inadequate attendance.
Certainly the task of juggling caregiving and professional commitment is complex. And while you may not be able to completely eliminate conflict between these two aspects of your life, there are several steps you can take to minimize the stress of juggling work and caregiving. What better time to take a closer look at this important issue than during November’s Family Caregivers Month? Read on for four tips aimed at helping caregivers find balance.
1. Talk to Your Manager
As more and more adults enter into caregiving roles, it is invariably trickling into the workplace. The best way to address your own situation? Open lines of communication with your supervisor.
Many different options exist which can help you perform better -- both in the workplace and as a caregiver. Be sure to ask about the possibility of non-traditional hours, such as flextime and telecommuting. Additionally, you may be eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles employees to take unpaid, job-protected time off to care for a family member with a “serious injury or illness.” While forgoing your salary may not be ideal, your job will at least be protected until you are able to return to it.
2. Get Organized
You’re likely dealing with a full workload in both your professional and personal life. Factor in the demands of caregiving, and it can seem overwhelming. The best way to keep up? Get ahead. Set a schedule and stick to it, maintain an updated calendar, and rigorously track all of your bills and payments. While getting all of these elements in order does involve an upfront time investment, it will save you both time and headaches in the future.
3. Seek Help
aregiving can be incredibly isolating, which is why it is so important to reach out for help when you need it. Friends and family members are usually more than willing to lend a hand, but may not know how to help or whether their assistance is wanted or needed. By asking for help in the most specific way possible, you’re far more likely to receive exactly what you need.
Don’t have family and friends you can call upon? Check in with your local Agency on Agingto learn more about resources for caregivers in your area. If you can't make it to a physical support group or meeting, caregiver websites, like the Caregiver Action Network, and online forums offer an alternate way to connect with others who are feeling the same way you are. Not only are you likely to find empathy here, but also an invaluable exchange of information.
Sometimes, even best efforts can no longer keep up with the rigors of working and caregiving, which is why it’s also important to consider taking a vacation from caregiving. While hiring help and using respite care are temporary solutions, it’s also critical to be willing to explore options when it’s time to to consider senior living. Some communities even allow you to arrange for a trial stay before committing to a permanent move.
4. Take Care of Yourself
You can’t care well for someone else if you’re not caring well for yourself. Nor can you perform your job to the best of your abilities if you’re exhausted or under extreme stress. While you may feel like you don’t have a spare moment to relax, the fact is that doing so is critical to your long-term health and wellness.
When scheduling your time, be sure to build in opportunities for activities other than those related to work or caregiving. Even something as simple as 30 minutes to take a bath, read a book, or have coffee with a friend can go a long way toward helping you feel relaxed, restored, and ready to take on what’s coming next.
One last thing to keep in mind? Remove questioning your caregiver skills and guilt from the equation. Instead, accept that you’re doing the best that you can. Also, don’t be afraid to say “no.” Setting boundaries isn’t optional; it’s a necessary form of self-preservation.
No caregiver will tell you that it’s easy to manage work and caregiving. However, with the right support mechanisms in place, it is possible to handle the challenges of caregiving. Download The Essential Caregiver's Guide to start finding balance today.
About Chelsea Sayegh
I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!
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