9 Tips for Balancing Senior Care with Working from Home
During the past few weeks, schools, offices, and businesses have closed due to coronavirus lockdowns, making working from home the “new normal” for millions of Americans. Senior centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have also closed their doors, leaving many older adults without necessary supervision and opportunities for recreation and social interaction.
As a result, many family caregivers of older adults have found themselves in the unexpected position of balancing work from home with increased eldercare responsibilities. Navigating these new – and sometimes unchartered waters – can be overwhelming.
Finding Work-Life Balance During COVID-19
Here are nine tips to help family caregivers manage their new senior care roles while working productively from home:
- Create a workspace
Dedicate a space in your home as your “office.” Although having a private room with a door is ideal, placing a desk in a quiet corner of your home is also adequate. Make sure your desk is large enough to hold your laptop and other equipment while allowing you to work comfortably. If you are expected to participate in videoconferencing, consider the lighting and background when selecting your workspace.
- Establish a routine
Create a routine for yourself and your senior loved one to help both of you know what to expect each day. Establish a predictable schedule for your loved one, including set times for waking up, eating meals, taking medicine, exercising, and other activities to help them feel comforted and secure. A routine will also help you establish set work hours around your loved one’s schedule.
- Create needed boundaries
Older adults who left the workforce before telecommuting was a common practice may not understand the concept of working from home. It’s important to let your older loved one know that there will be times when you cannot be disturbed, such as when you are in your home office or on a phone call. You should also let them know when it is okay to interrupt, such as when they need assistance using the toilet or do not feel well.
- Minimize the potential for interruptions
Before settling down to work, make sure your loved one is safe, comfortable, and has everything needed. As your work permits, check in to make sure they are doing well. It may also help to let them know when you will be back to check on them again. If your loved one lives in another household, it may be a good idea to check in with a phone call before you begin working. During your call, let your loved one know when you will be available again and what emergencies warrant an immediate interruption.
- Expect the unexpected
Times will arise when you need to step away from your work to assist your loved one. Having realistic expectations for yourself and your loved one will help to prevent frustration.
- Share your situation
It is a good idea to inform your boss and co-workers that you are serving as a caregiver for your elderly family member. Many workers are juggling childcare and eldercare responsibilities during the pandemic, so there is a good chance that your boss and co-workers will be helpful and understanding.
- Ask for what you need
One of the benefits of telecommuting is increased flexibility. If your senior’s needs conflict with your work hours, consider asking your boss if you can adjust your schedule or make up missed time later in the day. However, it is important to make sure your adjusted work schedule still enables you to complete your assignments and fulfill your job responsibilities.
- Take time for yourself
Balancing work and caregiving responsibilities can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to take time for yourself. Although stay-at-home orders may limit your ability to continue your normal activities, make sure to take a walk, watch a movie, read a book, meditate, or do yoga at home to help you relax and recharge.
- Get help
If you feel yourself becoming exhausted, stressed, or overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for home care assistance. Consider asking your family members for assistance. If that is not an option, hiring a home care provider may be your best bet to properly care for your senior loved one while you manage your work responsibilities.
Despite the pandemic, elderly in-home caregivers remain resolute in delivering safe and compassionate personal care that is essential to the health and well-being of older adults. If you are struggling and need assistance, respite care services are also available to provide a break for as long as you want. The home-care professionals at Visiting Angels can help you find the work-life balance you need while caring for your senior family member.