24 Mar 10 Ways to Balance Being A Caregiver and Working
Millions of individuals of the “sandwich generation” provide care to elder loved ones while managing other priorities like raising families and a career.
Almost 25.5 million Americans who care for someone 50 and over are also working. Working caregivers often like to keep their working life separate from their caregiving life. We do not want our employers to think we are too distracted to excel at our jobs. Plus, we often just want to keep our caregiving life private.
Sometimes, those two worlds will collide. A report from the AARP Public Policy Institute in 2012 found that “among working caregivers caring for a family member or friend, 69% report having to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours or take an unpaid leave in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities.”
Being a family caregiver when trying to maintain a career often results in financial burdens. These include a loss of wages, health insurance and other job benefits, retirement savings or investing, and Social Security benefits due to losing time at work or having to quit work to care for a senior loved one.
There are some things that you can do to help keep your life in better balance with respect to your work life. Below are XXX ways that you can help balance caregiving and your career.
Ask about flexible working opportunities
Talk to your employer about alternative work arrangements. If your employer allows, start work earlier, later, or work a split shift to accommodate your loved one’s care and appointments.
Work from Home
Telecommuting can add flexibility to your caregiving abilities. Many jobs can be done from anywhere, but not all. In these cases consider transferring to a different location for a shorter commute. Plus, consider job-sharing, where you split duties and pay with a coworker.
The Family Medical Leave Act lets employees take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for caregiving without the risk of losing their job. Talk with your HR representative or inquire with the U.S. Department of Labor to find out if you qualify and how to apply.
Many employers will also allow workers to use vacation and sick time to provide care for ill family members. Some may allow coworkers to donate leave. These programs let employees donate paid time off, vacation, or sick time to a pool to be used by coworkers who have medical emergencies.
Enlist the community
You don’t have to do this alone. Develop a network of trusted family members, friends, and neighbors to help out when you’re swamped. Your loved one gets their needs met, you get a break, and you have a list of options for times when you can’t get away.
Hire a paid caregiver
If you have the means, split your caregiving duties with a paid in-home caregiver. While the paid caregiver helps with housekeeping, meals, and bathing, you can assist in other ways or take a needed break.
Consider a senior or assisted living community
A senior living community can offer your loved one a safe home environment. Needs provided can vary significantly, and so can costs.
Make social and family time schedules
Schedule date nights and family outings just like you would a doctor’s appointment. It can be tempting to limit or skip time for these activities but that would be a mistake. Quality time with family and friends can be powerful to maintain bonds and foster health.
Schedule time for self care
When balancing work and personal lives plus caregiving, it’s easy to put off things like hobbies, exercise, or just some alone time. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish or even foolish. It is necessary to give you the energy and vitality to move forward. Keep yourself in good shape and occasionally restore and recharge. Want to but don’t have the time? Take 10 minutes to walk, garden, play with your pet or just relax and breathe.
Streamline your time
Step down from the committee or the club you might not have time for. Consider other time savers like grocery delivery. Take advantage of online bill pay for your family or loved one’s finances. Use tools and calendars to manage appointments and to-do lists.
Many caregivers feel isolated. With 43.5 million caregivers out there, there’s no need to feel alone. Sharing your experiences and feelings with your peers helps you feel more supported. The local Area Agency on Aging, Family Caregiver Alliance and the Alzheimer’s Association offer information on caregiver support groups and resources nearby. You can find additional support through Facebook groups and other online forums. Read our blog post about managing and overcoming caregiver burden and stress.
Read our insights for tips to help you manage the needs of caregiving and for your senior loved one to maintain a higher quality of life.
Aging adults who need help around the house, accompaniment to medical appointments and social events, and assistance with exercise can benefit from having an in-home support provider. Seniors can enjoy greater independence and receive regular stimulation when relying on a trusted caregiver who is trained in different aspects of senior care.