November is National Family Caregivers Month and we wanted to share this article about how Caregivers need to remember to take care of themselves as well as the loved one they are supporting. This month, we celebrate ALL of the caregivers who tirelessly work to provide home care for loved ones so that they are comfortable, safe and healthy!
Caregiver Spotlight on Work-Life “Balance”
by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR
There’s no avoiding stress in caregiving, at work or in life. Stress, both “good” and “bad,” will always be a part of our human existence. That’s all the more reason for caregivers to be proactive in managing stress. Shining a spotlight on your work and personal life is one way to identify and better manage stress. Be prepared, though. It requires serious commitment on your part.
Are you still with me?
What is Work-Life Balance?
“Work-life balance” is a misnomer. In real-life, there is no such thing as equal balance – other than maybe on a well-calibrated scale. When humans are involved balance would be perfection. If you’re not a perfectionist, you know that human perfection doesn’t exist.
Although it may sound like an oxymoron, the word “tension” may be the better word choice. “Tension” has multiple definitions, including competing pressures that require learning how to better balance push-and-pull opposing forces. The push-pull tension of work competes with the push-pull tension of caregiving and other forces in each of our lives.
The force is truly with us, so to speak.
“Work-life balance” requires continuous prioritization by individuals, self-examination and seamlessly deriving pleasure or satisfaction in daily living. However you choose to reconcile and (de)value competing elements in your life is entirely within your control.
So much to do, so little time!
Doctors appointments, pharmacy runs, medical supplies, emerging symptoms, caregiver or elder general malaise, Medicare and other insurance tangles, financial spaghetti bowls, family sparring, swirling emotions and more, will run caregivers into the ground if we are not mindful.
Caregivers’ Stress Management Tips
Stress management presumes gaining or re-gaining life control and greater balance.
- Check your blood pressure at least once monthly. Discuss your monthly readings with your physician.
- Schedule medical appointments early mornings or as late in the day as possible. Aavoid needless back and forth between work, home, and medical offices.
- Consider taking pre-approved vacation leave on medical appointment days. Enjoy breakfast or lunch before or after appointments, whether alone, or with your loved one or a friend.
- Treat yourself at day’s end. You’ll feel refreshed at work the following day.
- Consider the most strategic use of Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) based on your own preferences in addition to your elder’s medical needs. Decide whether intermittent (working reduced hours at work) or consecutive FML eases competing elements in your life. If approved by your employer, consecutive FML is a block of leave as allowed under FMLA.
- Leave home earlier than rush hour traffic. Leave work later than rush hour traffic. Take the long way home occasionally.
May the (right) force be with you!
Isabel Fawcett, SPHR
Isabel has been a full-time, stay-at-home caregiver to her 85 year old mother for 2 years, and counting. She is a regular Contributor at ElderCareLink, a blogger and Twitterer. Isabel is an independent human resources consultant and former HR management professional with 20+ years of HR experience, including FMLA, workers’ compensation and the Americans With Disabilities Act. She is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certified and last worked for the Office of the Governor in Texas before her most recent eldercare choice. Isabel also has worked in healthcare as Assistant Director of Volunteers at Beth Israel Medical Center, New York City, and Manager of Staffing and Recruitment, Norwalk Hospital, Connecticut. She has also worked at Marriott International Headquarters in HR. Isabel is fully bilingual in English and Spanish and has been a patient care volunteer for the American Red Cross overseas.
Home Care counselors at Andelcare can help answer any questions you may have regarding in home care for a loved one, including how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care options. For more information, visit Andelcare, a home care agency providing in home care in Seattle.