Balancing Caregiving Responsibilities
Caregiving can have a significant impact on your life. Caregiving responsibilities can interfere with your performance at work, your relationship with your loved one, or the care of your children. Your life can become a balancing act as you try to integrate caregiving into your already busy schedule. Here are some resources available to you which can help.
For Working Caregivers:
The FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) protects working caregivers. If you are an employee working for a company that employs 50 or more people, you are entitled to 12 weeks of annual unpaid leave to care for a family member. You can do this all at once or split over time. Although you will not be paid during this time, you will continue to receive health insurance and other benefits, and your job will be held for you until you return.
Tips for Coping with Work
- Talk to your supervisor about your situation and needs as a caregiver and employee.
- Be understanding about your job responsibilities and agree on a plan that works for everyone.
- If possible, ask for friends and family members to help care for the patient while at work.
- Look into home care options for the time when you are at work.
- If you take leave, check in with your employer to stay aware and keep them informed of your situation.
Preserving Family Relationships
Caregiving can create feelings of resentment, abandonment, and tension within families, leading to conflict. You may also notice transitions between members and changes in relationships. Caregiving is an adjustment for most families, and this takes time.
If you have a partner/spouse other than the patient, here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy relationship;
- Talk openly with your partner about your concerns and emotions.
- If you spend a lot of time away due to caregiving, express your feelings and take time to listen and understand theirs.
- If you need help and you think your partner can assist you, you can ask.
- Try to schedule ‘dates’ with your partner when you can be alone.
- Seek professional counseling if you and your partner are not able to communicate effectively.
- If you or your partner have lost interest in sex, this may be due to exhaustion, stress, or depression. Seek professional help if you are having problems with intimacy in your relationship.
If you have children or children are being affected by the illness:
- Talk to children about the situation by giving them a clear explanation
- Involve children in caregiving by telling them how they can help out.
- Try to keep things as normal as possible in your children’s lives.
- Try to spend time with your children, so they do not feel neglected.
- Make sure the children know they are loved by showing them affection.
- Try not to take out your frustrations on them.
- Many times, young children have unrealistic notions that they are responsible for their parent’s distress. Be sure to explain that they are not to blame for your emotional or physical distress.
- Prepare your children for discussing their situation with other children.
If you have siblings:
- Coordinate and share responsibilities of caregiving as evenly as possible, especially if caring for a parent
- Ask your siblings for help. Be clear and specific on what is needed.
- Keep the lines of communication open.
- If you are not satisfied with the help from your siblings, enlist other relatives and friends.
- Try to recognize if old sibling rivalries are re-emerging and address them.
- Express your emotions by talking with other family, friends, or a therapist/counselor.
- Remember that regardless of how you feel about them, they are still family.
Balancing Other Caregiving Duties
If you are caring for more than one person, you face demands above and beyond other caregivers. Multiple caregiving makes it challenging to attend to your own needs. Please take time to address the emotional and physical strain of caregiving.
- Do not attempt to do everything yourself.
- Recruit other family members or professionals.
- Look into services that might help reduce your strain. The patient’s insurance plan may even cover some services.
- Take breaks.
- Don’t carry the emotional burden of caregiving by yourself.
- Don’t push yourself too hard.
Remember your health is important too. Please take care of yourself.
At MJHS, we value both personal and professional caregivers and recognize the critical work you do. That is why we have created these online caregiving resources to help you through this crucial time in your life.
If you need additional help and support caring for your loved one, please feel free to contact MJHS. We can recommend other care options available to you through one of our programs.