Life and Care Giving: How to Master the Balancing Act

Post by Kristin Palardy

If you’re one of the 65 million individuals in the United States today caring for an aging, ill or disabled loved one, you know the job is a difficult one. Many of these family caregivers have to find a balance between their careers, their family life and duties, and the full-time job of care giving. Balance is important, as many who juggle these multiple responsibilities find themselves quickly burnt out; here are some tips that will allow you to create a comfortable balance:

1. Most importantly, think of yourself first. This may sound selfish, but if you are frustrated and burnt out because you did not put aside some “me time”, you will not be a good caregiver, a good parent, or a good spouse. If you take some time to enjoy a hobby, go for a walk, or meet some friends for lunch, you’ll come back refreshed and that will show in your attitude towards your family and the recipient of your care.

2. Take Advantage of Professional Services Available to You. There are professional care services, who hire individuals that can spend a few hours a week watching your loved one while you get out of the house, complete a project, or get some shopping done.

Also, check out other neighborhood services to take some of your responsibilities off your hands—dog walkers, babysitters, lawn care services, and maid services are all available in most neighborhoods and will lessen the weight of your household obligations.

3. Use Technology to Your Advantage. A medical alert system is a great device for monitoring a senior loved one with increased risk of falling. A panic button worn around their neck or wrist ensures that in the event of a fall or accident they can reach help, whether it be you, another contact, or emergency services. This will allow you to have some time to yourself, go on a quick trip to the store, or just retreat into your room for some quiet time.

Also, if you feel you have too much on your mind to reliably remember to get your loved one to take their medications, a medication reminder will prompt them to take their pills at several intervals set by you.

4. Budget Your Time & Delegate Responsibilities. You only have so many hours in the day, and planning out specific times for everything (chores, homework help, meals, private time with your spouse, and don’t forget your “me time”) will help you balance your day. Things will run much more smoothly day-to-day if you can spend 2 hours doing chores, then stop at a pre-determined time whether they’re done or not. If you proceed through your day this way, you won’t get caught up in laundry or dishes, and lose the only time you had to spend with your kids.

…and speaking of your kids, delegating some of your responsibilities to them will teach them responsibility as well as help you to have less to worry about. If 10am is chore time, have your children pick up toys or clean their rooms while you do the dishes. Your spouse is there to help and support you as well, so don’t be afraid to ask him or her to take on one or more of your responsibilities—you don’t have to do everything!

5. Communicate, and Set Clear Boundaries. None of these tips are effective without clear communication with those people in your life. Discuss with your employer your role as a caregiver, and let them know you may need time off occasionally. Tell them you can’t always stay late, because it would mean leaving your senior loved one alone where they could fall and hurt themselves.

Tell your kids and spouse that you need some time to yourself because you work hard, and may need to unwind. Talk to the relative or friend you’re caring for—make sure they understand you have their best interests at heart when you take a few hours off, and leave them in the care of a trained professional.

You may also have to speak to your close friends, and let them know that you can’t spend time with them unless it is planned ahead of time. Tell them that just because you can’t spend as much time with them as you used to, it doesn’t mean you are any less interested in their lives, or their companionship.

The phone, skype, or Facebook can be great tools to keep in touch with those you may not see as often due to your increased responsibilities at home.

For more senior and caregiver resources, visit: http://rescuealertofca.com

For over a decade, Rescue Alert of California™ has prided itself in educating seniors and caregivers with the latest in elderly health and safety information. Rescue Alert of California is a provider of medical alert technology to improve the lives of both seniors and caregivers, and allow them to live happy, healthy and independent lives.

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