Parenting Upward

The Working Caregiver: Evaluating Care Giving Demands and Making Plans

Last week we looked at using a quality improvement strategy to evaluate and come up with a plan to deal with the stress of care giving demands in the workplace, and how to talk to your employer. Today, we will look at using the same strategy to help you deal with evaluating the care giving side of the work-life balance.

The steps we used are:

  • Honestly assess your situation(s)
  • Learn about your resources
  • Weigh your options
  • Implement a plan
  • Adjust as necessary

Honestly assess your situation

Sit down and write out the care giving demands that you are responsible for. Think of demands on your time and energy, as well as monetary resources.

What kind of care does your loved one realistically require? Is it moderate help with household chores? Or do they need intense assistance with day to day tasks?
Can you work out a care giving schedule that will meet both your needs as well as the demands of care giving?
Is the financial strain too much on your or your family?
What are your feelings about the care giving  demands placed on you? Are there emotional hurdles to overcome?

If it is too much for you to handle on your own without placing your own health or career in jeopardy it is time to come up with a plan.

Learn about your resources

The questions above should help guide your search for resources.

Resources for care giving can be traditional, in the sense of government or community services, or informal, such as friends or family or your religious community. Think about delegating some tasks; if possible, to friends or family who can help relieve some of the responsibility and pressure you may be feeling. Look into community programs for seniors, including transportation services to area hospitals or doctor’s appointments that may be offered by your city, a local church group, or a senior advocacy group in your area.

To find local elder care or care giver support in your area check out the following resources:

Eldercare Locator

Helps locate your Area Agency on Aging based on your zip code. Visit the link above or call 1-800-677-1116.

Family Care Navigator

A resource provided by the Family Caregiver Alliance which is a state-by-state resource. Visit the link above or call 1-800-455-8106

State Unit on Aging

Administer and manage benefits and programs for elders and family caregivers. Visit the link above to find your states agency.


Weigh your options, Implement a Plan

Once you have listed out the responsibilities you have as a care giver, and evaluated your resources, it is time to come up with a plan to help manage those responsibilities. This step will be highly dependent on the resources available to you. In some case, simply delegating some care giving demands or tasks to other family members may be all that is needed. In other cases, you may decide that care giving is too much for your or your family to take on, and will need to make other arrangements.

If possible, it is important that you keep your loved one informed of any changes, and solicit their opinions and ideas to ensure their cooperation and a smooth transition when a different arrangement or routine may become necessary.

Adjust if/when necessary

There will be good days and bad days when caregiving, and you or your loved ones need or wishes may change. It is important to be flexible and if you can, have a backup plan in place.

Caregiving is not easy, and it can take a mental and physical toll on the caregiver. Next time, we will look caring for the caregiver, or ways to make sure that you take care of yourself and avoid caregiver burnout.