Caregiving is a 24/7 job and sometimes that's on top of your existing 9-5.
Not only is being a caregiver a huge time commitment, but it's also emotionally demanding. That being said, caregiving is also incredibly rewarding and truly makes a difference in the lives of so many people.
But, how do you provide care to someone else and manage your daily life without sacrificing your own health and well being?
5 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance
In order to manage someone else’s life and manage your own at the same time, you need to avoid burnout as a caregiver and find work-life balance.
1. Be open and honest with your employer
If you’re caring for a loved one, it's inevitably going to impact your career. By being proactive in speaking to your employer, you show that you're making an effort to continue to put in 100% at work. Ask your HR department about policies for caregivers, flexible work options and family leave that apply to you. You may also have access to an employee assistance program, which can be a helpful resource.
2. Get organized
Your to-do list is likely growing as you're reading this, so now is the time to start taking notes. Create a calendar of different commitments like work, time at home, doctors' appointments and more that can be shared with your family or even with work so that everyone is on the same page. If possible, ask other loved ones or coworkers to help out if needed.
Your calendar and to-do list will help everyone else stay on the same page but will also serve as a universal truth for you if you ever feel scatterbrained or like you're forgetting something (assuming you use your calendar).
3. Avoid blending your roles
As hard as it can be, do your best to focus on work tasks at work. If you have doctors' appointments to schedule or calls to make, do those at home or on your lunch break instead of during work hours.
When you're home, leave work at work. Focus on spending time with and providing care to your loved one without the constant influx of emails and notifications.
Most importantly, when you're "off" from work AND from caregiving, make time for you. Regardless of how flexible your employer is or how organized you are, you're carrying a heavy load as a caregiver. Find activities that you enjoy and let yourself take time for self-care in order to avoid burnout.
4. Know what resources are available to you
Visit your local agency on aging. They can often point you toward community resources that can help you now or may help you later. Some resources include:
- The National Family Caregiver Support Program funds a variety of supports that help family and informal caregivers care for older adults in their homes for as long as possible.
- University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) – Specific services and resources available through UCEDDs may vary, but many offer a variety of resources for families and caregivers including guides, videos, webinars and training.
- RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council: The Council is charged with providing recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on effective models of family caregiving and support to family caregivers, as well as improving coordination across federal government programs.
5. Ask for help
Caregiving is a taxing ask and trying to do everything yourself can leave you exhausted and on a slippery slope to burnout. Seek out help from your friends, family, community and even coworkers.
Sometimes you just need extra hands to run some errands, deliver meals or groceries, or just to give you an hour or so to yourself so that you can take a break. There may also come a time when an emergency arises and you need to leave in a hurry, so have a backup plan/person at the ready.
Support can also come from respite care through in-home care services or adult day centers.
At Hospice of Southwest Ohio, our nurses and social workers are available for short-term respite care in our Madeira Care Center or in nursing facilities. Respite care in our Care Center is offered for a five-day period. The room and board during those five days is covered by Medicare each month. Learn more about respite care at HSWO.