If you’re one of the 26 percent of Canadians looking after an elderly parent, chances are your days were already complicated before the coronavirus pandemic changed the way we live. These days, managing work and caregiving – and all your other responsibilities – is likely even more complex.
The added stressors to daily life
The pandemic has changed the way we do just about everything, from the way we work to how we grocery shop and clean our homes.
Juggling senior care duties with work can be challenging enough on “normal” days, but how do you manage now when you’re trying to work from home?
Due to physical distancing, many family caregivers aren’t able to get the outside help from other family and friends that they may have relied on before. How do you work efficiently under the same roof with your elderly parent(s) or in-law(s) who require your care and attention? What if you’re also having to homeschool your children at the same time?
Honestly, it’s not going to be easy, but with some careful planning and a little – okay, a lot – of patience, it can be done.
Tips for working from home while providing senior care for a loved one
Here are some things to consider as you try balance working from home while also caring for an elderly parent.
Set aside time each day to talk with your parent
Your parent may not have the stress of work, childcare, and an endless stream of bleak bad news related to Covid-19 and the economy weighing on them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the stress.
From picking up on your mood and any tension in the home to worrying about your health and wellbeing – as parents do – your elderly parent is probably feeling stressed, too. This stress can manifest in various ways. Your parent may act sad and withdrawn one moment and agitated and needy the next.
Listen to their concerns, remain calm, and explain what’s going on and what the plan is for the day. Just taking a few minutes to connect with your elderly parent before you start working can help set the tone for the rest of the day.
Create a routine for your parent
Consider their pre-pandemic routine, from what time they were having their meals to what TV shows they watched. Try to recreate that predictable routine for them as much as possible, but tweaking as needed to accommodate your own needs and responsibilities, too.
There are things you can do to make the routine easier for both of you. This will limit the number of times your parent may need to interrupt your work and keep them from worrying about being a burden:
- Prepare meals for a few days in advance.
- Set timers on the TV for their shows to come on automatically.
- Leave water, snacks, the remote control, and other items handy so they have access to them.
It’s only natural for your elderly parent to want to spend time with you. They love you, after all! Also, depending on when they retired and their own experiences, the concept of working from home may be something they have trouble grasping. This can make it hard for them to understand why you’re home, yet not able to spend extra time with them.
You’ll need to establish clear boundaries if you want to be productive.
To do this:
- Let them know that your work responsibilities haven’t changed even though you’re working from home.
- Explain how you will be doing your job and what’s expected of you to help them understand why you can’t be disturbed unless absolutely necessary.
- Offer clues that you’re not to be interrupted, such as when your home office door is closed or when you’re on the phone or computer.
- Go over what warrants an interruption, such as help getting up or going to the bathroom if they have mobility issues.
Consider professional home care services
Physical distancing and self-isolation recommendations prevent you from getting help from other family members who live outside of your household, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.
Our caregivers are trained in proper sanitizing and germ control procedures and able to provide safe and effective in-home senior care during the coronavirus pandemic.
A caregiver can come into your home to assist your elderly parent with tasks of daily living, such as hygiene and grooming, dressing, and feeding. They’re also able to take on responsibilities, such as meal preparation and light housekeeping, so that you can work uninterrupted.
We’ve also introduced a new service to assist our clients during this challenging time, called STOP, Drop, and Leave. To help you and your aging parent, a caregiver can pick up groceries, prescriptions, and other supplies and then leave them at your door, eliminating the need to go out in public and minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
RN-supervised home health care is also available for seniors living with chronic illness, including dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Be honest with your employer and colleagues about your situation
Talking to your employer and colleagues about your child care responsibilities is the norm, but few people discuss elder care responsibilities.
Caring for an elderly loved one is challenging and often unpredictable, especially if your loved one is living with a chronic illness. This can be especially disruptive to your schedule when you’re working from home, making open communication with your employer and coworkers crucial.
Let them know about the challenges you’re facing and how you plan to handle them as they arise. Always take the time to follow up afterwards if something comes up that requires you to step away from your desk or miss a call.
Take care of yourself, too
It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends when you have so much on your plate. Living in uncertain times like these certainly doesn’t help.
Cut yourself some slack and don’t try to do it all alone. Caring for yourself is important and will help you to better care for your loved ones.
Set aside time to unwind even if it means having to enlist respite care for a few hours once a week or hire a caregiver to run errands for your parent to free up some of your time.
These things can help you reduce your stress, avoid caregiver burnout, and improve your productivity.
If you’d like to learn more about our services and how we can help you care for your aging parent during this time, contact us by phone or email anytime.
We’re here for you.
Tel: 1.855.483.CARE (2273)