Balancing work and eldercare

Balancing work and eldercare

You have a looming deadline at work and your mother keeps calling because your father has fallen, yet again. You’re notified by your mother’s housing provider to find immediate overnight care due to your mother’s dementia and wandering at night. You’re  late for work due to taking your dad to his medical appointment and your supervisor immediately calls you into her office.

Sound familiar?

Almost 28% of Canadians combine paid work and caregiving. The majority of caregivers experience wonderful gains by giving back to the person they are caring for and enjoy strengthened relationships; however, the strains of caregiving take their toll.

A quarter of caregivers report a change in employment, including turning down training opportunities or promotions, taking a loss of income or simply having to quit their jobs altogether. Almost 15% report health and sleep problems, and more than one-third report emotional difficulties due to caregiving.

Balancing eldercare and work situations is a challenge, and no single action plan works for everyone. Here are a few strategies to lighten your load:

  • Be honest and proactive. Describe the situation to your employer before it becomes a problem and let them know that you are committed to your job.
  • Recognize the signs of stress. Listen to your body — don’t wait until the physical or emotional consequences of stress impact you negatively. Learn to deal with stress or get professional help if you’re unable to manage.
  • Learn what support is available. Some employers have an Employee Assistance Program. Find out more and ask to speak to someone who knows about caregiving issues.
  • Make your time your own. The people we are caring for may get into the habit of calling for any little thing or simply because they are lonely. Set limits and schedule regular times when you will call or check in. Be present and compartmentalize: work when you work, give care when you are caregiving and play when you play.
  • Take steps to help yourself. Educate yourself on how to make caregiving less stressful with some online resources and support: