I had the pleasure of presenting at the RBC- DS ‘Capitalize on Change’ conference and a recurrent theme was the need for balance in our lives. We are all so busy. Add caregiving to a 50 hour + work week and something has to give; and typically we give up ourselves. Or, at least time for ourselves. Is our exercise/yoga class the first thing we let go? Maybe. How about time to eat lunch or time with our spouse or with our friends?
In January 2015, the Minister of State for Seniors released the report “When Work and Caregiving Collide-How Employers Can Support their Employees Who Are Caregivers” and reported the majority of employed carers (35% of employed Canadians are carers) provided up to 9 hours
while working 50 hours plus and 16% → 10 hours or more and 10% → 30 hours or more. I had blogged previously on this report. and in that blog, shared resources- all with the hope of preventing caregiver burnout. While acknowledging the paid care is financially expensive and family provided care is emotionally expensive, it also has an impact on our ability to maintain our career path and can have financial implications as well. A few reminders taken from an article previously written for the RBC Advice Site:
1. Know your limits and capabilities.
It’s important to recognize your own limits, both physically and emotionally, and understand what you are capable of doing or not doing. Caregiving is demanding, and it’s critical that you look after yourself, too. Don’t lose sight of your own health – both mental and physical – or your own hobbies and interests. Find something that makes you happy, and try to make it a regular part of your routine. Physical exercise, a healthy diet, and sleep are also important.
2. Community resources may be available. Learn about them.
Short-term stays and respite care, along with home visits are available at or through most retirement residences and long-term care facilities, or through other community and provincial resources. They can provide the senior with visits, meals, accommodations, safety, security, and socialization while you take time for yourself. Other resources for seniors include transportation services, meal delivery, and recreational programs, which are often available through seniors’ centres. As a caregiver, you might also consider joining a community support group.
3. Remember that it’s OK to ask for help.
Consider what others might be able to contribute, such as shopping, preparing a meal, or spending time with the care recipient. Perhaps a set day or time can be arranged and built into the routine. Another option is to hire a part-time or full-time private caregiver.
4. If a medical condition is involved, know what to expect.
If the senior has a medical condition, make sure you are aware of the likely course of treatment and outcome. Educate yourself by talking to medical professionals and checking out online materials, books, pamphlets, workshops, support groups, and other resources. Having realistic expectations of both the care recipient’s ability and your own abilities is important.
5. If care is impacting your work, talk to your employer.
Caregiving can have an impact on your work life. Find out if there is an employee assistance program (EAP) available to you that includes elder care resources. In addition, inquire about flexible work arrangements including reducing hours, taking a personal day, job sharing and the option to work from home. Find out what options are available to you.