They often refer to caring for someone with dementia as “the long, sad goodbye.” The reason being is that you are slowly losing pieces of your loved one as the disease progresses. It can be a very challenging experience and one that can take a lot out of you the caregivers. Here are a few tips to help you manage your grief while saying goodbye.
Being a caregiver is a full time job, and for some, it’s a responsibility in addition to a part or full time job outside the home. This is no easy task. Many people work long hours, have demanding jobs, skip lunch, and stay late. Go home. Repeat.
Caregiving is also not a 9-5 job. It is an ever-changing and evolving process. Skills, behaviors, and conversations that were present one week may not be there the following week. Old behaviors go away, new ones pop up. Techniques for redirection and distraction work one day… then don’t work the next. You are always innovating new ways to communicate and accomplish each day’s activities, errands, and tasks. It keeps a person on their toes, doesn’t it?
To balance work and caregiver responsibilities, follow these tips to help you be your best in both roles:
• Tell your boss.
Be honest and professional about the challenges you’re facing outside your job. Craft a solution that works for both you and your employer.
• Learn to delegate.
Share your work and home responsibilities with others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
• Set up a family meeting.
Identify needs, discuss medical, legal, and financial issues, share concerns, and delegate tasks. Determine how much money your family can afford to pay for outside help.
• Investigate support services.
Ask your human resources department about resources your company offers, such as support lines or referral services. Look into benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act, telecommuting, job sharing, and employee assistance programs. Then take advantage of these valuable resources.
• Change your work hours.
You might be able to request earlier or later start times, compressed schedule, or flexible hours to work around doctor appointments and other commitments.
• Set limits.
It can be hard to get your work done when a loved one checks in every few minutes or if you’re constantly fielding calls from doctors or caregivers. Set boundaries, put aside your lunch hour to take care of caregiving, and reach out to family members and friends for help.
• Take care of yourself.
You may feel like you have to “do it all,” regardless of the toll it takes on you. However, you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
• Utilize Adult Day Health Care.
Take the worry out of your loved one’s care when you go to work. Adult day care offers a safe and stimulating environment for your loved one. In fact, many of our patients think of coming here as “going to work”. While you are concentrating on doing your job without worrying, calls, or distraction, they are enjoying themselves and the company of others. Talk to one of our social workers for additional resources and support, including scholarships. Call us at (714) 593-9630.
Taking on the responsibilities of working and caregiving can be challenging, but you may find it to be a bit more manageable by following some or all of the tips. Finding the best balance, resources, and communicating your needs may allow you to work longer, keep your loved one at home longer, or both.