If you are a family caregiver, finding balance is a struggle to keep multiple responsibilities from overwhelming you. You have to think about your relationships, work, fitness, emotional health, and the needs of your senior loved one.
Signs of Imbalance
Sustained imbalance in someone’s life eventually leads to physical, mental, and emotional burnout. The signs include:
- Lack of restful sleep
- Increased bouts of sickness
- Moodiness and irritability
- Increased alcohol use
- Weight gain or loss
- Losing track of important details
- Marital problems due to caregiver duties
- A decline in job performance
These are serious warning signs that you are going to need to make some decisions and adjustments.
Take a step back and define your limits. How much time do you need to rest and recharge yourself mentally and to maintain your physical health? What other needs do you have that aren’t being met? And what will keeping your job necessitate?
How to Regain Work/Life Balance
Keeping your job while caregiving has become an even more crucial consideration with so many people unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some things you should consider:
Talk to your boss. Do this sooner rather than later before an emergency with your senior requires you to make quick decisions. Discuss what arrangements could be made: a change in schedule, working remotely online, reducing your work hours, taking vacation days. Reinforce with your employer the importance you attach to your job and see if some arrangements or compromises can be made.
You may also be able to switch some shifts with a co-worker, and use your lunch hour to run errands for your senior.
Have contingency plans in mind when you talk to your supervisor.
Compartmentalize. When you are at work, focus on the job and not what may be happening with your senior. You don’t want to appear to be on the job in body but not in mind.
Study your employee policy manual. See what policies may be in place for caregivers. Perhaps your employer offers family leave or an employee assistance program.
Find out about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA allows some employees to take up to 12 weeks off every year, without pay, to care for a loved one. However, there are several stipulations in order to qualify for the program that include the size and type of organization you work for and how long you have worked there. You may also have to use your vacation first. You can keep your health benefits but may have to pay a share of the premiums.
You can find out more details at this U.S. Department of Labor site.
Get help from friends and family. If you have managed to arrange a new or reduced work schedule, you may need friends and relatives to pitch in during the time needed to devote to your work. Find out what others will commit to and work it into a schedule so that everyone understands their responsibilities.
In-home and respite care. There are also respite caregivers who come to the senior’s home. The care can be for a few hours, all day, a few days, or scheduled on a regular basis. Bethesda offers Respite Care services across the St. Louis area that can accommodate flexible schedules.
Also, most in-home caregiver services provide some medical supervision, meal preparation and other services, including transportation needs, and personal services for those daily activities your seniors may find challenging.
Balancing Work and Caregiving Is a Constant Adjustment
If all of this sounds like it takes a lot of planning and hard work, it’s because it does. Your life as a caregiver won’t be a smooth and consistent schedule of exercise, work, meals, caregiving, family time and a glass of wine at the end of the day. Good and bad surprises will happen. The best you can do to keep your life in balance is to have your resources lined up, contingency plans in place, people to call on for help, and an eye out for those wonderful moments with your senior that make it all worthwhile.
If you’re ready to find balance in your life, contact a care manager today and see how we can help.