About 66 million adult Americans perform an average of 19 hours a week of caregiving duties for loved ones. Add that to a fulltime job and a family, and you have about 30 percent of adults who miss an average of seven days of work a year to help with caregiving responsibilities. Before getting worn out or frustrated, consider these points to manage your caregiving responsibilities.
How to Manage Life as a Caregiver
Talk to your employer. Many caregivers hide their home responsibilities from their employers, but employers will have a better understanding of your circumstances and the use of your vacation and sick days if they know what you’re facing. Some companies even offer the Family and Medical Leave Act, which entitles caregivers up to 12 weeks of paid time off or the Parental and Serious Illness Leave Policy, which entitles caregivers to two weeks of paid leave. Not all employers will be equally understanding, but discrimination against family caregivers is unlawful.
Ask about flexible hours. If you can’t take time off, ask your employer if you can work from home or alter your work hours so you can accommodate your loved one’s needs.
Take time for yourself. While your time is stretched between work, caregiving and your own family, make sure you spend at least a few minutes a day just for yourself. Sit outside and watch clouds pass, go for a run or read a book.
Take time for your family. Even if it’s just a dinner a week where you’re all together, set aside time that you spend with just your family. Be present; no work talk, no caregiving talk.
Put your health first. No, it’s not selfish. If you’re not well, how will you be able to take care of anyone else?
Find support. Talk to your siblings or find a support group for caregivers. Other caregivers probably have the same stresses you have, and reaching out could help you both.
Ask for help. Look for transportation or home care services in your area. Talk to your sibling or other family members to help take some of the responsibilities off your hands so you can take a break. When they get involved, they will not only help you, but they will better appreciate how hard you work.