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Mastering the Juggling Act

By Family Caregiver Alliance

Last week Arlene missed two days of work when she felt uncomfortable leaving her elderly mother home alone. Recently diagnosed with dementia, her condition makes Arlene fear that she will wander off, or accidentally hurt herself or damage her home while trying to complete a task as seemingly simple as making lunch. This week Arlene’s desk is overflowing with paperwork and deadlines. Her mother has a mid-week appointment with her doctor and Arlene’s children are expecting her on the sidelines at two soccer games. The tasks related to work, family and caregiving are piling up. Arlene is beginning to feel like she has one too many balls in the air.

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In today’s society Arlene is not alone. According to an AARP report, an estimated 43.5 million Americans are providing unpaid care to an individual over the age of 50, while 14.9 million of those people are also dealing with the struggles of Alzheimer’s disease. As family caregivers take on the massive responsibility of helping to maintain a senior loved one’s independence, it is of the utmost importance to find ways to master the art of juggling caregiving responsibilities, career and family. Below are some suggestions which some family caregivers have found helpful in maintaining their own well-being.

1. Talk to your employer about your caregiving situation
Caregiving can be an inherently difficult and personal topic to discuss. However, over time, it is likely that your caregiving responsibilities will require you to be absent from work for one reason or another. By keeping your employer informed about your personal caregiving duties, you may find that they are willing to help. For instance, some companies offer flex time or telecommuting options for individuals enduring family hardship. Some larger employers may even offer employee assistance programs to help employees locate home care providers or complete Medicare or Medicaid paperwork. While you don’t have to offer details about your caregiving duties to your employer and the expectation is that you will continue to work hard to achieve performance at work, keeping an open line of communication with your employer will help ensure that you’re able to balance work and caregiving responsibilities with as little stress as possible.

2. Make your family feel like a priority too
Families can be an enormous source of support in family caregiving. However, when they feel neglected, families can also be a source of stress. Consider sitting down with your spouse/partner and children on a regular basis to let them know how much time you expect to spend on caregiving in the week ahead. Work together to create a schedule that allows you to participate in family activities, and examine ways that your spouse/partner and children may be able to help with caregiving, such as visiting Grandma as a family and preparing dinner for her one night each week.

3. Seek help from others
Family caregivers need breaks or respite regularly to maintain physical and emotional health. Caregiving assistance from family, trusted friends or a professional home care agency can also ensure that you have time to truly focus on your work and family responsibilities. Hesitation to share caregiving duties is a normal response, as many family caregivers feel that loved ones will receive a lesser quality of care from someone else.

Mastering the art of juggling family caregiver duties is a long-term process that requires dedication and flexibility as you learn what works best for your situation. If you’re a family caregiver who has found effective ways to balance your schedule, please leave a comment and share your experiences with the rest of our community.

Content Contributed By ClearCare, Inc