Family caregiving is often not a choice. The role springs up for almost everyone at some point in their life. The truth is, we feel obligated to take on the role when a loved one ages or becomes infirm — it’s human nature to care and nurture those we love. And, though it’s honorable and fulfilling, being a caregiver doesn’t come without emotional and physical toll.
Many caregivers must balance their own lives as well as their loved ones’. This includes managing a career while managing a whole other life! Not many people can afford to put their work on hold when they’re trying to support a family, plan a future, and juggle the responsibilities of caregiving. Because of this, it’s common for working caregivers cut back hours, miss work days, and reduce their overall productivity. Furthermore, stress and burnout can occur with any caregiver — those in the workforce are even more prone.
Here are our tips to balancing all of the above:
Communicate with your Employer
Keeping the line of communication open with your employer is key, as they’d like to know what they can expect from you once caregiving becomes part of your daily life. Speak to your superiors or HR department to discuss how important your job is and what support you can get for your situation.
Many companies are equipped to handle these types of changes (by way of personal leaves of absence) — you’d be surprised what may be available to you if you just ask. Otherwise, it’s necessary to keep a good conversation going regarding your home life, as your employer will have an honest, well-rounded understanding of your performance.
Look Into Different Work Structures
Consider some of the following solutions to accommodate your situation. Present them to your employer to see what they’d be willing to try.
Flexible work hours
A 9-5 job is pretty standard, but if your workplace is suitable for a little bit of schedule adjusting, you may want to look into flexing your hours on certain days of the week. For example, you could work evenings and/or weekends to make up for missed time taking your loved ones to doctor’s appointments.
Work from Home
Perhaps the nature of your job allows you to work remotely. You may want to discuss with your employer ways to bring your work home, for instance adding your phone and home internet to the company’s network or adopting certain projects that don’t necessarily need constant supervision.
Maybe it’s just about cutting some of your hours while keeping your position. Does your employer have the capability of hiring a temporary worker or an intern who can lighten some of your load?
Find Support in your Community
Aside from finding help within your immediate family to delegate certain duties to (your teenage son could do the laundry, your siblings can take on appointments, somebody else can be in charge of groceries/feeding, etc), you must recognize there is only so much one or a few people can do. Look for whatever support your community may be able to offer. For example, day programs like group walks or personal visiting services can be arranged. There are non-profit organization and low-cost services in almost every area — you just have to do a little research.
Look into Financial Aid
If your government or employer cannot offer much in terms of financial support, employment insurance and caregiver tax credits may exist for your city or state. It doesn’t hurt to do a little digging for gems that give you a little bit of cash to relieve the pressure of working while caring for a loved one.
Stay on Top of Your Mental Health
A topic we cannot stress enough is caring for yourself before offering care to others. It is no use pouring from an empty cup. There are tons of resources on this blog for maintaining your personal health in order to give the best care you can to your loved one — be sure to utilize them!