Just that quickly my life changed. My mother suffered a minor stroke and a subsequent pulmonary embolus. She was hospitalized twice and was also battling the beginnings of dementia. My mom had always been so independent, even to the point of joining my friends and me for an occasional Happy Hour (pre-COVID 19). However now, she really needed my help. Her memory wasn’t that good anymore, and while she wasn’t incapacitated she did need assistance with keeping track of medications, doctor appointments and light housekeeping.
Of course, at the time my mom became ill, my corporate job was busier than ever. I often found myself working long hours, albeit at home, to stay on top of things while also trying to keep an eye on mom Any life I had outside of work and my mom seemed to disappear. Burnout was on the horizon.
Juggling caregiving and full-time work are not uncommon. According to researchers in 2014 there were an estimated 23.9 million caregivers that also had outside jobs. So how do you find a balance between caregiving and having a full-time job? Here are some things I learned:
Juggling caregiving and full-time work are not uncommon. According to researchers, in 2014 there were an estimated 23.9 million caregivers that also had outside jobs. So how do you find a balance between caregiving and having a full-time job? Here are some things I learned:
Get organized. That means organize your life so you can be effective at both caregiving and your job. I started my mornings an hour earlier than usual. This way I was able to get in some early morning meditation, breakfast and get a jump on my paperwork before I was flooded with emails and phone calls. I also set up a calendar for my mom, so she could easily keep track of her doctor appointments. The family invested in a 30-day pillbox, with an alarm that made it easier for my mom to know which pills to take and when.
Reach out for help. Though my sisters lived on the opposite coast, they came out to help care for my mom. While a full-time nurse wasn’t necessary, we were able to have a nurse come in twice a week to check on my mom and her medications. The home health nurse was covered by Medicare. This assistance from others was invaluable. I was able to regroup and spend time on things that needed my attention at home.
Make time for yourself, even if you only have 30 minutes to spare, spend it on you. The “me time” can be used to relax, meditate, spend time with friends or just take a long bath. You also need to take care of your health. Get in some exercise like a nice walk and eat well. If you start to feel ill, make time to get medical attention. You can’t be of assistance to a loved one if you are not healthy.
Talk to others who might be in the same situation. Reach out to peers who have also taken care of an ill or aging loved one. Not only are these people be a source of wisdom and encouragement, but they will help you feel you are not alone.
Juggling caregiving and full-time work is never easy. But if you have a plan, doing both is possible.