Caregiving for your parents or a loved one can be a rewarding experience in which you gladly participate. But if you’re still working and your loved one’s needs increase, you may find yourself pulled in multiple directions with two demanding responsibilities.
According to Caregiving in the US 2020, a report compiled by The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, the impact on a caregiver can range from financial instability to overall stress and strain. Today, almost 1 in 5 Americans are caregivers for adults. Six in 10, or 61 percent, are caregiving while working and the majority of those have experienced an effect on their work, including going in late, leaving early or needing to take time off. One in 10 reported they finally left the workforce or retired early.
If you are a working caregiver, there are steps you can take to relieve at least some of the demands on your time. Consider these tips:
• Educate yourself. The learning curve for caring for an aging loved one while working can often feel overwhelming. As we age, even the simplest of activities can become a challenge, such as dressing, bathing or cooking. The most valuable characteristics a caregiver can have is flexibility and understanding.
• Have a backup plan. Create a response plan not only for emergencies but how you’ll handle the day-to-day interruptions that will occur. Does your job allow you to leave on a moment’s notice? Think of possible scenarios and prepare ahead of time.
• Talk to your boss. Have a conversation with your employer to let them know what you’re dealing with. Bring possible solutions and suggestions for any problems your caregiving might cause, such as if you might be able to work late, come in early or work from home.
• Help make your parent’s home safe. Take a tour through the home with your loved one and look at each room with a safety in mind. Be aware of tripping hazards, such as area rugs or electrical cords. Is your loved one still able to safely cook, and do they have shower grab bars?
• Help them create a daily routine. Knowing what they’ll do when they wake up, when they’ll have lunch, an afternoon nap or neighborhood walk can bring order to the day and make daily life less chaotic.
• Look for and accept help. Help is available, but some caregivers hesitate to accept it. Look for resources in Green Valley and Sahuarita like the Connect: Green Valley App at connectgv.org. It can be an overwhelming challenge to focus on your work and your loved one at the same time. Many in-home caregiver services are available locally, as well as one adult day care facility at Posada Life Adult Day Services (posadalife.org/community-services/). Valley Assistance Services (valleyassistanceservices.org) is also a valuable resource for caregiving issues.
• Help your loved one remain independent as long as possible. Explore ways that you can help them remain self-sufficient. Research different options and available products that can support them in remaining as independent as possible.
• Take care of yourself. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll eventually be unable to care for your loved one. Find time during the day to escape to a quiet place and meditate or even just to take deep breaths and clear your mind. Take time off for exercise, lunch with friends or just to have fun. Whenever possible, arrange for respite care so that you can travel or enjoy a vacation. Posada Life Community Services offers two caregiver support groups open to everyone. Call 520-625-2273 for more information.