Mom’s memory has been slipping. Dad needs a walker to get around. Your parents can no longer keep up with caring for themselves and their home. You love them dearly and want to help them as much as possible. But what about your other responsibilities? How can you do your best at work and be there for your other family members? Keeping all the balls in the air is no easy feat.
Finding support at work
According to a Gallup poll, more than one in six American workers also act as caregivers for an elderly or disabled family member. That means over 25 million of us are struggling to balance work responsibilities with caring for a relative. Here are some tips to help you navigate some of the challenges:
Research your company’s policies. Read through your employee manual and talk with your HR department to find out what resources are available to you, such as Employee Assistance Programs.
Rework your schedule. Even if your company doesn’t have a formal policy, it may be possible to get creative with your schedule. Depending on the nature of your work, ask about the possibility of flextime, telecommuting or job sharing.
Know your rights. Learn about the Family and Medical Leave Act that entitles eligible employees to take 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave to care for a family member without impacting health benefits or job security.
Talk to your boss. Though every job situation is different, it’s generally best to keep an open dialogue with your employer and colleagues about your caregiving responsibilities. In most cases, your supervisor will be understanding and will appreciate your honesty.
Care for the caregiver
Being responsible for your loved ones is important, rewarding work. But keeping life balanced when you are caring for aging parents is difficult—even when your employer is flexible and supportive. Here are ways to take some of the stress off:
Divvy up the duties. Do you have a sibling who lives too far away to help with daily tasks, but could manage the bill-paying or medical research? A neighbor who can take care of the lawn or laundry? Friends who would be happy to stop by with a weekly meal?
Lean on others. Just knowing you’re not alone can make a difference in helping you cope with the strains of caregiving, and a support group can be a great place to start. If you feel you need even more support or are struggling with issues like guilt or resentment, make an appointment with a therapist.
Carve out time for you. The last thing you need is another thing on your schedule, right? But if that thing is a massage, an exercise class or a walk with a friend, it will go a long way toward lowering your stress and will be well worth it.
Hire a professional. As your loved one’s needs increase, think about hiring a home care agency to help—before you become overwhelmed. They can take some of the burden off of you and take care of the many tasks involved with keeping your parent safe and well-cared for. Home care agencies offer a range of services, from hourly to live-in care, from running errands to cooking meals, from helping with the activities of daily living to simply keeping your loved one company.
Home Care Angels provides in-home care throughout north and northwest Chicagoland. Please call 847.824.5221 to speak with one of our Client Care Coordinators if you would like more information.