At 61 years old, Rosanne is excited about the next phase of her life. She and her husband are empty nesters and she recently began her second career as an art gallery manager. Rosanne has also recently started painting again, hoping to showcase some of her work in the art gallery. It finally feels like it’s “her time.”
But then Rosanne’s 82-year old mother has a fall. Hospital…rehab…decisions about care for Mom. Rosanne has abruptly joined the ranks of the 42 million Americans who are working caregivers.
Working caregivers like Rosanne often feel “their time” is interrupted indefinitely by elder care. But there are ways Rosanne can still take good care of her mom while protecting time for herself. Here are 5 ways working caregivers like Rosanne can save time:
1. Share your story. While many working caregivers keep their situation private, it can be good to talk about your situation. Many of your colleagues and friends have been working caregivers too. They may be able to offer ideas or resources you hadn’t yet heard of.
2. Plan errands in advance. Efficient working caregivers bundle errands like dry cleaning, pharmacy, grocery store, etc. to save time.
3. Reframe the way you look at work. Many people realize working caregivers miss more days and call out sick more frequently than their non-caregiver colleagues. What’s less known is that when working caregivers are on the job they are often thinking too much about caregiving. Healthy working caregivers give themselves permission to look at the workplace as respite from caregiving.
4. Tell you older loved one when it is okay to call you during the workday. Working caregivers who set boundaries around the workday (except in case of emergencies) often report being able to focus better.
5. Don’t micromanage your caregiving partners. If your paid or unpaid (friends & family) caregivers are not providing care exactly like you would, make peace with it. Unless something truly dangerous is happening (like giving incorrect medication), know that those caring for your older loved one will never do it like you will.