Caring for a loved one can be stressful and challenge. Many caregivers also work outside the home, and you may be feeling overwhelmed trying to balance all of your responsibilities. Caregivers take on many significant roles: scheduling appointments, providing emotional support, helping with medications, managing finances, providing meals, and keeping their loved one’s home clean and safe.
If you are having trouble balancing work with caregiving there are some things you can do.
Research employer policies and programs
Look through your employee manual and speak with your human resources department. Find out if your company has policies in place or benefits available to help you manage work and caregiving. You can find out if you are able to access:
- Flex time – If your company allows flex time, your employee handbook should define it. Typically, there are core hours you must be at work, and then you create your schedule around those hours.
- Job sharing – When two people work part-time to share a job that is normally help by one person full-time.
- Telecommuting – If your job permits it, telecommuting allows you to work from another location, such as your home or your loved one’s home.
- Employee assistance programs – These programs can help employees deal with challenges that may affect their work and often include referrals to services in the community.
Don’t be afraid to sit down with your supervisor or human resources to discuss your situation. Think about your company’s policies and what supports you might want to help you better manage your responsibilities. Be honest about your situation and be open to ideas or suggestions your supervisor may have.
You may be doing everything you can do to balance work and caregiving, but you still need help. Here are some things to consider:
- Adult day centres – These centres offer social activities in a safe environment. They often provide personal care, medical care, transportation, and meals.
- Referral services – There are many local and provincial agencies on aging that can help you find programs and services in your area. You can also ask your loved one’s doctor for referrals or speak to a social worker about providing support and advocacy.
- Speak with family – Tell them you need more help with caring for your loved one and find out if there’s anything that they’d like to help with or suggests tasks that fit their skills or interests. If you need help with certain tasks, specifically ask for them.
- Bring in outside help – This can be an informal arrangement with a friend, neighbour or volunteer group. You could hire a home care provider for your loved one. Home care providers are able to provide personal and hygiene care, can help with medications, and can prepare meals. They can also provide emotional support and social interaction.
Be aware that it’s totally normal for you to need a periodic break from your caregiving duties.
Don’t forget to take time to do something that makes you feel good. Take time to sleep, go for coffee with a friend, and eat some healthy meals. Maintaining your own mental and physical health is crucial to avoiding burnout or compassion fatigue.