Caregiver Basics

Are you interested in learning how to balance your resources, work, and stress levels?

In this education module, we review processes and strategies for juggling responsibilities, managing work-life issues, and taking care of yourself. 

Topic Quick Links – Click on a topic below to go to that area of the page.

Realities of Being a Working Caregiver

Did you know nearly 60 percent of caregivers work full time and nearly 2/3 of these employees need to make adjustments in their work schedule?  
Caregiving impacts both men (approximately 44%) and women (approximately 56%). It is easy to underestimate how much time caregiving requires and long-distance caregiving increases the complexity exponentially! 

A Model for Work-Life Balance and Caregiving

Work-Life balance is defined as: “Healthy work environments that value people and support personal life and family issues.”
Ref: The Alliance for Work-Life Progress, 2003

Follow these steps to help you be more in control of managing your varying work-life commitments. These are the steps of almost all quality improvement processes!

  1. Assess your situation
  2. Learn about resources
  3. Weigh the options
  4. Implement a plan
  5. Monitor for changes
  6. Adjust the plan

Ref: Elder Care: A Six-Step Guide to Balancing Work and Family, by John Paul Marosy, 2002

Strategies for Juggling Responsibilities

Working caregivers face constant demands for their attention among work, other family members and the complexities of caregiving.

Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Delegate some tasks of caregiving (hired help, family, friends, religious community, etc.)
  • Set priorities -focus on what is important to get done relevant to health, safety of care recipient
  • Plan for emergencies

Managing Work Requirements

Honestly assess your job and the “climate” at work. Speak to others in your company about options that may have worked for them. Be proactive and creative and offer solutions rather than expecting your manager to come up with ideas. Make use of resources at work. Remember that you are being paid to do a job. Use lunch and break times to make phone calls or use other resources.

Talking with Your Supervisor

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 such alternatives 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.

Taking Care of Yourself

Survey Highlights of People Who ‘Self-Identify’ as Family Caregivers, National Family Caregivers Association.

  • 91% believe “preserving your health” is a message that should be told to all family caregivers
  • 30% exercise regularly since becoming caregivers, compared with 61% who exercised before becoming caregivers
  • 47% seek prompt medical attention for themselves compared to 70% who did so before becoming caregivers

It is important to take care of your own needs and your own health!

  • Maintain (or establish!) good health practices
  • Use your vacation time to recharge and relax as much as possible
  • Enlist others to step in so you can take a break from caregiving
  • Consider respite care
  • Try to find a little time just for yourself every day to do something you enjoy (reading, walking, knitting, etc.)

Click here for someTips for Finding Time and Taking Care of Yourself

Be sure to review our page titled: Caring for the Caregiver 

Seeking Support

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), join a support group at work or in the community. 

Know Your Company Benefits and Policies

If you work for a company that offers benefits, talk to your human resources department and know what benefits your company offers. Ask for and read related policy materials. Ask about Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits and FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) benefits which entitle eligible workers a maximum of 12 weeks a year of unpaid leave without loss of job security or health benefits. There are a variety of restrictions such as company size and the amount of time the worker has been employed.

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. 

Revised 2021
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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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