Being a caregiver to a loved one such as your parent or grandparent can be rewarding. You get to spend time with them and take pride in being able to care for them as they cared for you. However, being a caregiver can also be exhausting, emotionally draining and can interfere with your family and career.
Going into caregiving without a plan or knowing what you are getting into can work out at first but will eventually cause burnout. Careful planning and balance can help reduce your risk of developing depression, anxiety and other health issues in the long run. Here’s how you can begin to map out your caregiving efforts.
Develop a Plan
Now that you’re a caregiver for your loved one, you have taken on more responsibilities on top of your existing responsibilities, like those that come with your family and your career. The best way to balance it all is by developing a plan.
Develop a respite care plan with your loved one and your family. This is the best way to start lining up help. Even as the main caregiver, you have to take care of yourself too. By involving siblings, nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts, you can begin asking for help right away and start scheduling your “breaks.”
Here are the steps for developing a respite care plan:
- Understand your loved one’s needs AND your needs.Determine what your loved one needs. Is it housekeeping? Therapy? Personal care? Make a list of all that they need from you.
And, while you are at it, make a list of what you need as well. How much time do you need for yourself? What do you need to be sure you’re spending time with your family? Whatever you need to keep yourself healthy and happy, add it to the list.
- Create a list of family and friends.Compile a list of friends and family willing to help. Include your out of town family as well.
- Have a meeting.Once you have your list of volunteers compiled, call a family meeting. You can include out of town family as well using Skype or FaceTime. In your meeting, explain thoroughly what you need help with. Be as detailed as possible of what kind of care your loved one needs. Be prepared to answer questions and encourage them to ask questions so that they properly understand what is being asked. Encourage discussions and brainstorming how to make this easier on everyone.
- Set up a schedule.The best laid plans include a thorough schedule that everyone has access to. Now that you have your group of volunteers to help with your loved one’s care, use an online scheduler that everyone can have access to. Send the link via email to your family and friends including neighbors or anyone else who would love to spend time with your loved one.
Working and Caregiving
Once you have set up your caregiving plan, it will be easier to have a talk with your boss and request what you will need to help balance caregiving and your career.
You’ll first want to have a discussion with your boss and human resources. Let them know about the situation. Explain the challenges you will be facing at this time but assure them that you will still be a valuable employee. Be honest and realistic with your options. Have a discussion about changing your work hours to accommodate your caregiving efforts and ask about working remotely. Some employers also offer to let employees take a leave of absence for caregiving if it is necessary.
Lean on Those Who Understand
Caregiving is not easy and can be straining physically and emotionally. Look to your friends and family who are or who have gone through caregiving for a loved one for support. Surround yourself with people who can lift your spirit, offer an ear to listen, or to help with a small task. Regularly schedule a time to call or have a quick lunch with them to recharge your batteries.
Ask for Help
Never be ashamed to ask for help. Even with a respite schedule worked out, you may find along the way that the schedule is not working out. It’s best to ask for help now rather than wait until you feel burnt out.
Consider a Lifecare Community
Even though you feel like you can take on a caregiving adventure, consider looking into a Lifecare community, such as The Admiral at the Lake, with your loved one. Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Rehab and Memory Care are located on one campus at The Admiral at the Lake. If your loved one moves into Independent Living and then later needs Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing, they won’t have to go far to transition and The Admiral team makes the transition go as smooth as possible.
At a Lifecare community, your loved one will have many opportunities to continue the hobbies they love doing such as art and gardening while meeting others who share their interest. If your loved one needs to transition, they still have access to their friends and favorite activities. You and your friends and family can stop by anytime and enjoy these activities with your loved one as well.
Take your loved one on tours of these communities to see if it’s an option they would consider. Weigh the pros and cons with them so that they can make an informed decision that you are both comfortable with.
What is Lifecare?
Lifecare at The Admiral at the Lake provides the most comprehensive retirement plan for active, independent living in Chicago today.