Family caregiver balancing act.

In a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, 26 percent of North American family caregivers of older adults report that they felt a “workplace stigma” associated with elder caregiving. These 10 ways to feel more empowered at work could help give family caregivers hope for better balance and health:

1. Be realistic: You can have the best intentions for trying to do it all, but that may not be feasible. Eldercare is a balancing act that begins with being realistic.

2. Honesty is the best policy. Be honest with yourself and your employer about what you need. If you’re worried that honesty will jeopardize your job, check out Conversation Starters: How to Talk to Your Employer About Your Caregiver Support Needs.

3. Think creatively. By thinking outside the box, you might offer solutions for your situation that will help you, your employer and others facing their own family caregiving challenges. For instance, perhaps you can make up work after hours or on weekends. Whatever plan you suggest, remember not to risk jeopardizing your own health by stretching yourself too thin. Suggest a trial so that you and your employer can ensure that it is working.

4. Get plenty of rest. Getting six to eight hours of sleep as a family caregiver could be challenging if you’re providing hands-on care for an older adult or facing other stresses. But getting enough rest could help you feel more empowered at work.

5. Take one day at a time. It can be so easy to become overwhelmed as a family caregiver. Face the challenges of the day, but try not to look too far ahead. Caring for an older adult is an unpredictable job and one that often calls for a measured approach.

6. Arrange for help including respite care. Sometimes a little help goes a long way. Check with your employer about any back-up emergency care services your company might offer through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Check with your local Alzheimer’s Society for community resources, or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office to learn how professional caregiving could help you.

7. Educate your employer. Depending on where you work, your employer may not understand the kinds of issues you are facing. Do what you can to explain the kinds of challenges you are facing. Look to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada and Help for Alzheimer’s Families for information you can share.

8. Look for ways to give back. If your employer offers flexibility and help, think about ways to pay it forward with your manager and co-workers. That will help build morale and show your boss you’re a team player.

9. Be organized. Maybe you’re not an organized person by nature. But honing your organizational skills could go a long way toward both staying on top of your job and easing your anxiety. Find an online calendar or print calendar to help you manage both your work and your home to-do lists and appointments.

10. Find support. Find out what assistance your employer may offer through your company’s EAP (Employer Assistance Program). Join a support group in your area. Look to your faith community or friends for emotional support. Make time for coffee or a movie, or join friends in an exercise class at your local YMCA. Find more empowering stories and tips by visiting DaughtersInThe Workplace.ca.

Did you know CARP members receive a 5 percent discount on professional caregiving services through Home Instead Senior Care®? To learn more, visit www.HomeInstead.ca.

Excerpted from “Zoomer” magazine:

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