According to a AARP study, an estimated 25.5 million caregivers – six in 10 – report being employed while caregiving, and more than half of those work full time. Often caregivers must work in order to pay for supplemental care or to provide for their own families. Caregiving itself can feel like a job, so how do you balance the two? Here are a few tips.
Talk to your employer. Don’t try to keep your caregiving duties a secret – even if you fear job security. The Family Medical Leave Act allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for caregiving without losing your job. But say you just need to take a few hours a week to take your mom to the doctor? Check with your human resource department. Many companies allow for flexible schedules that will allow you to make up any missed hours without taking vacation or sick leave. Your company may also offer work from home options or job share programs. The key is to be up front with your boss and work with your employer to find solutions that work for you and the company.
Build a caregiving team. Does your loved one have a stay-at-home neighbor who might be able to check in on her when you can’t? Check into caregiving services that provide supplemental care and/or transportation services, and have a list of emergency contacts you can call in a pinch. And make sure your loved one has access to that list as well. Take advantage of time-management tools, such as calendar alerts and to-do lists, but don’t be afraid to delegate.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Don’t neglect your own health — keep your doctor’s appointments. Manage stress through prayer or meditation or exercise. Seek out a support group of other working caregivers.
Check out these workplace stress relievers: