Having a job and trying to take care of an elderly parent can be a demanding combination. In addition to your job, you may be providing hands-on care with daily tasks such as getting dressed, eating, taking medication and bathing.
You may also be managing bills, doctor’s appointments and meals in addition to your job. It can be quite overwhelming as competing demands challenge your time and your energy. Here are some strategies to help you cope.
Evaluate the needs and explore your options
Evaluate your elderly loved one’s current living situation and assess how care needs can be met. Take into consideration safety, the ability to be left alone, medical needs and the ability to handle basic daily activities.
Once you have a good idea of the needs, you can begin exploring care options and services. Some of them may be local to the community and you may find other options online. Adult daycare centers can provide social and therapeutic activities for older adults in a supportive environment. Arranging home-delivered meals could ease your burden.
It may help you to use a service that offers in-home help, such as Tandem Careplanning. You have access to carefully selected caregivers and can arrange your own schedule with them.
Make a list of everything that requires to be done, such as grocery shopping, doing laundry etc. Create a family calendar and make sure everyone knows what’s happening. You don’t have to do everything on your own and your siblings or friends may be able to help out with making meals, going to doctor’s appointments etc.
Read your employee handbook
Your company may have policies related to family leave, flexible work options etc. that apply to you. It may even have an employee assistance program. Larger companies are usually able to offer support in ways that smaller ones can’t but there are ways even smaller companies can support employees with caregiving responsibilities.
If your company already offers employees flexible work options, you may be able to take advantage of these to make your life a little easier. You may even be able to work remotely some days of the work.
Check out how your boss feels about this and see if you can come up with a plan together that helps you and meets the needs of the company at the same time. Some of the options are a compressed work schedule, a change in hours, job sharing, and telecommuting.
Don’t wait for an emergency to explain your situation
You need to discuss your caregiving activities with your boss sooner rather than later. Make sure that he knows that your work is a priority but caring for your loved one is also a significant part of your life. Reassure your boss that you will make sure your work always gets done. Your boss will be more supportive if your caregiving is not affecting your productivity.
Check whether the Family Medical Leave Act applies
The Family Medical Leave Act allows you to take some time off work to handle care of a loved one. It allows you to take up to 12 weeks off a year without pay but with job security. You do have to meet certain requirements.
For example, the company you work for must be over a certain size and you must have worked there for at least 12 months or at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the time you want to take.
Some proactive strategies on your part and family-friendly workplace policies can go a long way towards making a caregiving journey less stressful.