Juggling caregiving and work is like having two jobs. Both require competing demands on your time and energy. As the population ages, more families than ever are providing this type of care to their elderly relatives. According to studies, as many as 42 percent of working Americans – more than 54 million people – have provided eldercare in the last five years; 17 percent are currently providing care. The average age of caregivers is 49. While women take on slightly more responsibility for care, men are greatly impacted as well.
If you feel as though you are being pulled in two different directions caring for an aging parent and working, consider the following strategies to help you “keep it together.”:
- Get Organized
As a caregiver, you have a lot of responsibilities. Not only do you have to stay on top of your own work tasks and priorities, but you also have to spend time and energy juggling someone else’s needs. This is where good organization skills are so important. Getting organized will also help you create more time in your day – something every caregiver could use.
One simple way to stay organized is to use a notebook, or an online note-taking app, as a catch-all for your thoughts, notes and to-dos. Keep your notebook organized by starting a new, dated page for each day.
- Be Honest and Assertive
There’s only so much you can do in 24 hours. Be assertive about what you can reasonably take on, and talk honestly with your boss about your caregiving situation. Let him or her know what you need, and how they can help. Reiterate your commitment to your role and your organization, but tell him about any upcoming tasks you may not be able to complete. Your boss and human resources department might be able to offer you more assistance than you expect.
- Take Time for Yourself
As a caregiver, your time is your most precious resource, and it is often in short supply. Don’t be tempted to skimp out on “me” time. It is vital that you set time aside for rest and relaxation when people are relying on you. Get regular exercise, visit with friends, or take up a hobby. Taking time for yourself will help you to manage stress and ensure that you have the physical and mental energy to do your best.
- Ask for Support
Your Employee Assistance Program can help connect you with supportive care resources in your community. You or your family member can call the EAP and learn more about topics such as:
- Caregiver support
- In-home services
- Housing – transitional and alternative living arrangements
- Legal and financial issues
If you need referrals to specific services, we will help you locate licensed, registered or agency-screened programs and services. Elder Care Resources can help you in your search for:
- Adult day care
- Meal programs
- Respite care
- Assisted living
- Nursing homes
- In-home care
- Case management
For more information about EFR’s EAP Elder Care, visit our website at http://www.efr.org/my-eap/.