November marks National Family Caregivers Month – a time to recognize the countless individuals like you who make the everyday commitment to care for a loved one. Today, an estimated 39.8 million Americans serve as caregivers for one or more of their family members.1 Of that number, many of these individuals care for an aging adult. As a family caregiver, you are the backbone of our nation’s care system, and your dedication does not go unnoticed.
By Claudia Fine, MPH, MSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Member of the Leadership Academy
When carrying out day-to-day caregiving tasks, it may be challenging for you to balance managing someone else’s life and managing your own at the same time. Here are some tips to help ease family caregiving responsibilities:
1. Set aside time to relax and participate in personal hobbies
When trying to balance work, family, caring for an aging loved one, and numerous other responsibilities, you may begin to feel as if you don’t have time to unwind. It is important that you take a bit of time out of each week to do something specifically for you. Whether it is gardening or yoga, make it a point to participate in a personal hobby. You may even find an activity that both you and your senior family member are able to enjoy together.
2. Identify a potential alternate caregiver
While you may serve as the primary caregiver to your family member, it is important that you have identified another individual who can take on the responsibility in the event that you are away. It is important that this is a person who is comfortable around your senior loved one, and vice versa. Knowing that you have this additional caregiver can help put your mind at ease if an emergency situation arises.
3. Learn more about your employer’s caregiving policies
Sometimes, the time that it takes to manage the care for a family member can conflict with your career. Fortunately, many companies are starting to understand the importance of the family caregiver role and recognize the fact that certain adjustments are necessary for family caregivers. Companies such as Deloitte have started to offer paid leave options for caregiving.
If balancing work and caregiving is becoming overwhelming, you may benefit from speaking to your manager about your company’s caregiving paid leave options.
4. Pay attention to your personal health
When you have the responsibility of caring for someone else’s health, it can be easy to stop paying attention to your own. As a caregiver, it is important that you are listening to your body and taking the proper measures to ensure that you are as healthy as possible. Be sure that you are getting routine medical examinations, exercising, and being mindful of your diet.
5. Consider seeking additional assistance
Caring for an aging adult can be demanding. If you feel as though you need additional support, it is a good idea to seek help. One great option is hiring an Aging Life Care Manager™. An Aging Life Care Manager can help you to create a holistic care plan for your family member that will ultimately help ease your stress. Some organizations that offer care management services can also provide referrals to accredited homecare and private duty nursing. Some care management organizations can even support you seamlessly when your loved one travels seasonally or permanently. Be sure to ask about the scope of services provided and coverage when your care manager is unavailable.
About the Author: Claudia Fine, LCSW, MPH, CMC, CCM drives the care management model of care at SeniorBridge, a national organization that provides care management, homecare, and private duty nursing as the Chief of Professional Services. Ms. Fine has served in industry and community leadership roles throughout her 30-year career in elder care. Among them, she served as a president of the Aging Life Care Association (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers).
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.