You’ve got a deadline to meet at work, but you also need to take your elderly mom to the doctor and you’ve promised to take her to the hairdresser, too. How can you juggle your responsibilities at work while also making sure your mom gets the help she needs?
There’s no doubt about it, being a caregiver to a senior parent is demanding and can make it hard to give your work the attention you once could. You’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 34 million people acting as unpaid caregivers to adults. 37 percent of caregivers in 2007 (the latest statistic available) said that they had to quit their jobs or reduce the number of hours they worked because of being a caregiver.
If you’re faced with balancing your work life with your responsibilities as a caregiver, here are some tips that may help.
Talk to Your Boss
Because so many people are family caregivers these days, your boss has probably encountered a situation like yours before and is likely to be understanding. On the flip side, if you don’t talk to your boss about what is going on, those days when you come in late or take unexpected days off may make it appear as though you’re no longer taking your job seriously. While you don’t have to tell your employer every detail, you should speak openly and honestly about the challenges you are facing. Be open to working with your employer to find a solution that works for both of you.
Consider Changing Your Work Hours
If your parent needs more help in the morning, making it difficult for you to get to work on time, you may want to talk to your employer about shifting your hours so that you come in later in the morning. You might even be able to work a split shift, taking a few hours off in the afternoon, if your parent has afternoon appointments you need to attend. Depending on your job, you might also be able to work flexible hours so that you put in your time each day, but perhaps at different times each day depending on what your caregiving responsibilities for the day are.
Ask if You Can Telecommute
Today’s technology makes it possible for some jobs to be done from home. You may not be able to work all of your hours from home, but your employer may be open to you working half the day in the office and half the day from home as your time permits.
Build a Support System
If it’s not possible for you to change your hours or telecommute, you might need to ask others for help in meeting your caregiving responsibilities. Talk to family members and friends who may be willing to share some of the load. Another option is to hire a professional in-home caregiver through an agency who can drive your parent to appointments, help with daily tasks, and check in to make sure your parent stays safe.