Managing Work Requirements as a Caregiver
Most caregivers still hold paid jobs in addition to caring for their loved one. Having to juggle work, caregiving, and many other responsibilities can put a strain on a caregiver’s quality of life, and also his or her quality of work. Managing work requirements can become more difficult as the family member’s health continues to deteriorate and more help is needed. Attempting to fulfill work expectations that were set prior to adopting a caregiving role can lead to the development of caregiver burnout and other health issues.
Working Caregiver Background Information
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA):
- An estimated 1 in 4 households juggle demands of caring for a chronically ill relative, raising a family, and managing a career.
- For businesses, work disruptions due to employee caregiving responsibilities can cause a loss in productivity of about $2,110 per year per employee.
- Common effects on working caregivers include: poor health, lower productivity, missed career opportunities, loss of employer-paid health benefits, lower pay, and less Social Security and pension income.
- 10% of caregivers reported quitting their jobs to provide full-time care, averaging a loss of over $300,000 in pay, Social Security, and Pension over a lifetime.
6 Tips for Managing Work Requirements
1. Understand what’s needed
Caregivers should evaluate what their loved one needs from them, as well as what they need from their employer. Working caregivers can start by making a list of all caregiving responsibilities, and then all work responsibilities. Following this, determine an estimate of how much time each category of tasks will require. Other important things to consider are the amount of money needed for caregiving, and how each role affects the other.
2. Be Realistic
Many caregivers take on way more than they can handle. It is important to remember that there are only 24 hours in a day, and that doing everything him/herself is not realistic. Depending on the level of care needed, additional assistance could benefit both the working caregiver and senior. Caregivers that are realistic about their capabilities will have more success in managing work requirements.
3. Be Honest
Some people can be reluctant to discuss their caregiving role with co-workers and management, but being honest can take away some of the burden. While caregivers don’t want to be thought of as less committed than other colleagues, many bosses and managers are very understanding and can offer more help than expected. HR departments are also known for providing assistance with any issues. They would rather have a warning and honesty than the surprise of unfinished work.
Caregivers can ask about flexible hours, job sharing, and even working from home if the profession permits. Also, offer suggestions that could help with meeting work requirements as well as caregiving demands. A reoccurring meeting could be beneficial to track progress and make note of any changes that might come up.
4. Ask for help
If managing work requirements and caregiving is getting to be too much, there are many resources that provide caregivers with assistance or breaks. Respite care is a short-term alternative, or maybe there are other family members or friends that could take on some responsibility.
5. Get organized
Working caregivers should create a schedule in order to stay organized and efficient. A daily, weekly, and monthly calendar will all be helpful in looking ahead but also focusing on the current day. With many responsibilities, it can be easy to forget something or get lost in everything. Also delegating certain times of the day to work or caregiving can be beneficial.
6. Take time to relax
Caregivers also need to care for themselves and take the time to relax during their hectic schedules. Whether it’s a few days of vacation or just a few hours per week, preserving his/her own health is just as important as caring for someone else. Reading, walking, knitting, or watching a movie are all great ways to unwind that don’t require a large amount of time. Caregivers might have to ask for help when it’s time to relax, but a little bit of downtime goes a long way in managing work requirements as a caregiver.