Strategies for Working Caregivers

Learn strategies for working caregivers, including how to juggle responsibilities, manage work-life issues, and take care of yourself. 

Being a working caregiver can be incredibly challenging, often requiring a delicate balance between professional responsibilities and caregiving duties. According to recent statistics, nearly 60 percent of caregivers are employed full-time, with many needing to adjust their work schedules to accommodate caregiving needs.

For the average caregiver employee, caregiving is similar in hours to having a demanding, non-paying, part-time job in addition to a paying full-time job.

In this module, we’ll explore effective strategies tailored to working caregivers, offering insights into managing workload, navigating workplace dynamics, and prioritizing self-care.

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Understanding the Work-Life Balance Model

Work-life balance is crucial for working caregivers, as it ensures a healthy environment that values both professional commitments and personal life, including caregiving responsibilities. Following a structured approach can help caregivers better manage their diverse commitments. Here’s a model for achieving work-life balance:

  1. Assess Your Situation:
    Take stock of your caregiving responsibilities, work demands, and personal needs.
  2. Learn About Resources:
    Familiarize yourself with available support networks, community services, and workplace benefits.
  3. Weigh the Options:
    Consider various strategies and solutions to optimize your work-life balance.
  4. Implement a Plan:
    Develop a personalized plan of action based on your assessment and available resources.
  5. Monitor for Changes:
    Regularly evaluate your plan’s effectiveness and make adjustments as needed.
  6. Adjust the Plan:
    Be flexible and adaptable, modifying your approach to meet evolving circumstances.

Prioritizing Self Care

Amidst caregiving responsibilities and work obligations, it’s essential caregivers to prioritize their own well-being. Here’s how:

  • Maintain Health Practices:
    Prioritize regular exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate rest to sustain your physical and mental health.
  • Utilize Vacation Time:
    Take breaks to recharge and rejuvenate, utilizing vacation days for relaxation and self-care.

Click here for tips on Finding Time and Taking Care of Yourself

Be sure to review our page: Caring for the Caregiver 

Strategies for Juggling Responsibilities

Managing multiple responsibilities requires careful planning and delegation. Share caregiving responsibilities with your partner or spouse, siblings, and other relatives. Ask for specific help, build and maintain a network of support (both formal and informal), and join a support group. 

Here are some effective strategies for juggling caregiving duties with work commitments:

  • Delegate Tasks:
    Entrust certain caregiving tasks to hired help, family members, friends, or religious communities to alleviate your workload.
  • Set Priorities:
    Focus on tasks critical to the health and safety of your care recipient, ensuring essential needs are met efficiently.
  • Plan for Emergencies:
    Anticipate and prepare for unexpected situations by having contingency plans in place.

Managing Work Requirements

The Cost of Caregiving

One in five full-time employees is also providing care for someone who is aging, ill, or disabled, outside of their paid job. Yet, despite the universality of this experience, few evidence-based solutions exist to help caregiver employees balance the responsibilities of work and care.

  • 60% of Caregivers experience work disruption due to the requirements of family caregiving
  • Family caregivers miss an average of 3.2 work days a month 
  • One third of caregiver employees have had to leave a job because of caregiving

Navigating workplace demands as a caregiver necessitates open communication and proactive problem-solving. Consider the following tips:

  • Assess Your Job:
    Evaluate your role and workplace culture, seeking insights from colleagues who may have faced similar challenges.
  • Talk with Your Supervisor:
    Initiate a transparent dialogue with your supervisor, discussing potential accommodations such as flexible hours or part-time work.
  • Take Advantage of Resources:
    Utilize workplace resources such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and explore options for job sharing or adjusted schedules.

Know Your Company Benefits and Policies

First, familiarize yourself with your company’s benefits and policies, particularly those related to caregiving support. Key considerations include:

  • Consult Human Resources:
    Reach out to HR to understand available benefits, including FMLA provisions and Employee Assistance Programs.
  • Know Your Rights:
    Familiarize yourself with FMLA eligibility criteria and explore options for unpaid leave or flexible work arrangements to accommodate caregiving needs.

Talking with Your Supervisor

Next, determine what and how much your supervisor needs to know about your situation. If you and your supervisor are not clear about the tasks for which you are accountable, there is no clear basis for a discussion about alternatives such as part-time work, flexible hours, etc., so start by having a clear job description and deliverables.

  • Be specific about what you need. Is flex time possible where your hours could be adjusted to come in at times other than those currently scheduled?
  • Offer suggestions that will help you do your job but will allow you the flexibility to meet your non-work demands.
  • Be clear about how the business needs will be met in your proposal.
  • Ask about job sharing with another employee to cover times that you must be away.
  • Set a timeframe to evaluate new work arrangements.
  • Make adjustments, as needed.

Conclusion

Balancing the demands of work and caregiving can be challenging, but with the right strategies and support systems in place, working caregivers can effectively manage their responsibilities while prioritizing self-care. By leveraging available resources, fostering open communication in the workplace, and prioritizing personal well-being, caregivers can navigate this complex balancing act with resilience and grace. Remember, taking care of yourself is essential to providing quality care to your loved ones and excelling in your professional endeavors.

Resources for Caregivers

  • Call 2-1-1 throughout Texas for information and access to health and human service information for all ages.
  • Call 800-252-9240 to find local Texas Area Agency on Aging.
  • Call 800-677-1116 – Elder Care Locator service to find help throughout the U.S.

Use resources such as Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Types of assistance provided by AAAs:

  • Information and referral
  • Caregiver education and training
  • Caregiver respite
  • Caregiver support coordination
  • Case management
  • Transportation assistance

Assistance available through AAAs for persons age 60 and older may include:

  • Benefits counseling
  • Ombudsman – advocacy for those who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities
  • Home-delivered meals
  • Congregate meals
  • Light housekeeping

Be sure to check out our Resource Directory, FAQ, and Educational Events Calendar for more great information! Permission is granted to duplicate any and all parts of this page to use in education programs supporting family members caring for elders. 

Edited March 2024 by Paula Hill for Family Caregivers Online. 
Resources: Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers
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We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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