COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. It has changed how and where we work and go to school. It has impacted household dynamics with a growing number of families managing multi-generational homes. And, it has made our elderly parents more dependent on us as stricter stay-at-home orders are placed on the most vulnerable.
The pandemic is playing with our emotions. As demands increase, we are all feeling overwhelmed, stressed and worried that another shutdown will happen and further disrupt our lives. For many, the unknown has interrupted the balance between work, family, school and the care of our elderly parents.
To help manage the stress that often comes with caregiving in general, we have gathered some tips and advice to help family caregivers balance work with caring for an elderly parent.
Stick to a routine. Try to separate work from your caregiving duties. Make caregiving-related calls and schedule doctor appointments during your personal time rather than during work hours. Wait until you get home from work to do more of the time-consuming tasks that involve your loved one.
Establish boundaries. Whether you are working in an office or working from home, make sure your parent knows you are in fact working, and that they should respect the schedule you have in place. Set aside certain times for short breaks during the day when you can check in with them.
Understand your benefits. Your company may have policies on caregiving, flexible work options, and family leave. You may also have access to an employee assistance program, which can be a valuable resource.
Talk with your supervisor in advance. Let them know about your caregiving situation. Make sure they understand that unforeseen things may come up that could impact how and when you work. Emphasize that you have an important responsibility to your elderly parent but that you are committed to your job as well.
Have a back-up plan at work and at home. Arrange for a co-worker to step in if you need to leave work unexpectedly to care for your elderly parent or loved one. Think ahead at home as well. As a family caregiver, you should have a plan for alternative care and prepare others for what they need to know should you be exposed or become ill with COVID-19.
Take care of yourself. Your well-being is important. Eat healthy, balanced meals, maintain a regular sleep routine, exercise, allow yourself time each week to take care of personal errands, or simply take time to relax.
Put safety measures in place. Have everyone in your household follow CDC-recommended protocols for personal hygiene and other guidelines, especially if the person in your care lives with you. If your elderly parent falls ill with the flu or with COVID-19, that could be dangerous. If you get sick, you can’t go to work or be an effective caregiver.
Caring for an elderly parent is not easy, and it can put a strain on your personal life and your career. Preparation and planning, knowing what resources are available to you and finding balance are all essential.
If you do not have family support to help you, we can. Learn more about FirstLight Home Care’s Respite Care services.
FirstLight Home Care is proud to CHAMPION the family caregiver, offering empathy, advice, and support for those who provide countless hours of care to their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s. We want to provide a helping hand, relieve some of the stress that comes with caregiving, and give you back a few hours in your overwhelmingly busy day.