If you’re the caregiver for an older adult, it can sometimes feel like a high-wire act. Trying to navigate the tightrope between meeting your needs, your family’s needs, and caring for an older adult in your life may seem impossible. However, you’re in good company. There are roughly 66 million informal caregivers in the United States who give up almost twenty hours a week to look after loved ones. But before you burn out doing so, take a look below on how to balance your duties providing elder care in San Francisco.
Get your (caregiving) house in order
They say if you “fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And while it might not be possible to plan for every little thing that can happen when you’re caregiving, good organization is the cornerstone in performing this role. Fortunately, there are many technological innovations that can help with this (like Google calendar). Try mobile apps to stick to schedules and routines. Or you can go old-school with a pen-and-paper day planner. The point is to group tasks and activities into the most efficient way possible, and then complete them.
Make a list and check it twice
Lists are another essential tool in your caretaking kit. Make ones for larger tasks (supplies to buy for cleaning the house), as well as smaller ones (stores to visit in a single shopping center). Carry the lists with you so that you can add to them, or check things off as you go. It also pays to have them handy in case anyone asks if they can do – or buy – anything for your loved one.
Make work work for you
Wonder if your boss will be sympathetic to your caregiving plight? You’ll never know unless you ask. But your employer might be more willing to be flexible with sick days, vacation times, or showing up late if they know the reason. And don’t be afraid to invoke the Family and Medical Leave Act, or the Parental and Serious Illness Leave Policy, both of which entitle caregivers to time off.
Manage your caregiving, but don’t micromanage
Sometimes, letting go is one of the hardest parts of caregiving. But the truth is, you can’t control every aspect of this role, nor should you try. Beyond protecting the health and well-being of your loved one, try to practice the motto, “Good enough is good enough.” Doing otherwise can lead to a stressful and unproductive situation, which is bad for both you and the person you’re looking after. Furthermore, micromanaging might put off people who actually want to help you.
Reach out for support
When the responsibilities of caregiving become too much, reach out to family, friends, and even neighbors. Ask them all to pitch in a little and help run errands, tidy up the house, cook (or bring over simple meals), or even contribute financially. It’s fine to do this even if you just need a break. You can also ask that they visit your loved one to socialize so that he or she won’t be lonely. For instance, there’s no law saying your teenager can’t spend a Saturday afternoon with their grandparent, and both will likely benefit from the experience.
Get help with elder care in San Francisco
In addition to asking for help from those closest to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals for elder care in San Francisco. It could be as little as a few hours of home care several times a week to twenty-four hour supervision. Or perhaps you just want someone to do some light housekeeping or escorted transportation once in a while. No matter the task, do whatever you must in order to strike a balance between your needs and those of your loved one. When you succeed, you’ll be able to step back from the high wire act, take a seat in the audience, and finally enjoy the show!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.