More and more individuals are balancing a full-time career, while caring for their loved one. Due to the high costs associated with long-term care, family members are taking caregiving roles into their own hands. It is estimated that approximately 44 million people are living with Alzheimer’s worldwide. These numbers are on the rise, with an expected 76 million cases to surface as of 2030.
Alzheimer’s is only one condition. Caregivers are caring for loved ones who are suffering from MS, Parkinson’s, mobility issues, and so many other conditions. Caregiving roles require a lot of time and effort, which is not only emotionally and physically exhausting, but hinders one’s ability to focus on their career.
The Reality of Caregiving
When a loved one is diagnosed with any disease, it can be overwhelming. For those that are currently caregiving for a loved one, you know how emotionally taxing it can be. It’s not uncommon for individuals to reach a high in their career, only to find out that their loved one needs assistance.
Since all situations and conditions differ, it’s hard to generalize. With that being said, many caregiving roles can be viewed as a second job. It’s important that you understand how to find balance, while caring for yourself and your budding career.
Hiring caregivers can be expensive, which is why family tends to fill this role. This option also allows individuals to stay in the comfort of their home for longer periods of time. If you’re concerned with your new caregiving role and your career, there are appropriate measures you can take.
Balancing Your Career and Caregiving
No one wants to find out that their loved one has dementia or MS. When a loved one needs help, we tend to fill that role. That is what family is for. However, it’s not always this black and white. Caregiving is an extremely challenging position, so it’s important to take the right approach. This will not only benefit your career, but your overall health, and the quality of care that your loved one receives. The following tips will help you create a more stable balance:
1. Ask For Help
You don’t have to do this on your own. When one person is the sole caregiver, it’s too challenging to maintain a career. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people to ask for assistance; especially those closest to you. Start by asking friends, family members, or neighbours. Any bit of extra support helps.
If you are not gaining enough assistance from friends and family, you can approach in-home care workers, hospitals, and homemaker services. Depending on where you live, this care may be financially covered. Start looking for help anywhere you can, especially within your local community.
There are so many great programs, such as meals on wheels, social support, senior centres, and transportation programs. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re failing as a caregiver. In fact, it means the exact opposite. It means that you’re trying to find all the best resources to help your loved one.
2. Evaluate Your Career
If caregiving is conflicting too much with your career, you may need to make some tough decisions. Does your career require you to travel? Are you struggling to find enough time for yourself, let alone caregiving? This can be challenging for many, but you may need to consider switching positions.
This does not mean that you need to give up your career. You can look for another position in the same field; one that requires less time. That way, you can continue your career, while freeing up more time. Speak with your boss about your options. Explain how much you want to stay involved, yet something needs to give. Since caring for a loved one is generally priority, it’s beneficial to see how your current responsibilities at work can be tweaked.
3. Look Into Flextime
More and more positions are offering ’flextime.’ This means that scheduling allows for more flexible hours. This sort of arrangement is ideal for caregivers, since your role is highly unpredictable. Some days your loved one may not need you at all, while other days you may need to assist them for 10 hours.
The key with flextime, is that it’s most important to just get the job done. You don’t necessarily have to sit at your desk from 8am until 5pm. As long as your work is completed, that’s the main objective. Approach your boss and see if this is a possibility for you.
4. Telecommuting Options
As technology advances, there are more and more telecommuting opportunities. Through one’s phone and computer, you can work and stay in touch with work from home. This is a developing trend within the career world. If you’re a caregiver, use this growing trend to your advantage.
Depending on your job description, you could potentially telecommute for several days each week. Some individuals successfully telecommute full-time. If you think this may be possible, create a proposal for your boss. This will allow you to continue your career, while caring for your loved one.
Although stressful and overwhelming, it’s important to maintain balance in your life. Many caregivers suffer from burnout. This hinders their ability to care for their loved one or themselves. There are ways to balance caregiving and your career. Evaluate your personal situation. Make sure you seek support, as there are many resources and tools available for caregivers. Take proactive measures, ensuring that your loved one is safe and that your health is maintained, while you continually progress in your career.
Photo credit: Fredrickliving