How Can You Balance Work and Elder Care Through the Coronavirus Crisis?
Amy Carrier is a foundation director with a long-distance spouse and a 74-year old mother, who has Alzheimer’s and lives with her. Even on a normal day, her life is complicated. Amy employs two private-pay caregivers to assist her mother while she is at work, managing a team of ten at the Oregon State University Foundation.
When she gets home, she takes over: making dinner, managing medications, and helping with small tasks like choosing clothes and operating the television. Her husband lives and works in New Rochelle, New York. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, her life has become that much more complex. Like many people, Amy is working from home, at least until the end of April and perhaps longer. Her husband is self-quarantined in New York. One of her mother’s caregivers has a sick child, so can’t come in. Not surprisingly, Amy feels overwhelmed. “This is a huge challenge,” she says about working from home while caring for her mother, worrying about her spouse, and managing outside help.
While much attention has been paid in recent days to the difficulties of parents trying to balance their professional responsibilities with home-tutoring children whose schools have been shuttered, there are also millions of people who are juggling work and elder care in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Some, like Amy, are attempting to work from home with a sick mother or father who needs attention. Some have stopped allowing professionals health aides to enter their parents’ residences for fear of exposure to coronavirus.
Many are just operating under incredible stress, unable to communicate with relatives who are in lockdown in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. For these working daughters and sons, setting boundaries, employing technology and routines, asking for flexibility (and some forgiveness), and managing well-being will be critical. And while many of these recommendations are similar to what working parents can and should do, others are unique to working sons and daughters. First, set your parents up for success.
Your elderly parents are probably as stressed as you are right now. Even if they are not watching or listening to the relentless stream of bad news, they are most certainly picking up on your mood and those of others around them. They might also be concerned about your well-being — they are parents after all — and not wanting to be a burden. Do what you can both to communicate with them and to create a calm, predictable day for them, so that you can carve out time to get your work done.Read the rest of this article.