When you take on the role of caring for a loved one, your life balance can shift as you adjust to being “on-call” 24/7 or take on another person’s health in addition to your own. This challenge to maintain a healthy balance impacts nearly 40 million American family caregivers.
Are you finding the right balance? Take this quick quiz and see how you rate. If your score isn’t exactly where you’d like it, read on for a few tips that might help find more time for you and improve your life balance.
1. When you aren’t getting enough steps providing care at home for your loved one, and you’d like to spend more than 5 minutes a day outdoors, you:
A) Take your loved one outside for a walk, but after reaching the end of the driveway at just over a snail’s pace, you realize this isn’t what either of you need.
B) Go for a walk on your own, put a phone near your loved one and tell them to call you in case of an emergency. They call you 3 times before you’ve ventured off your own street.
C) Arrange for your niece to come by three times a week for about 30 minutes after dinner so you can go for a longer walk.
2. Your friends are getting together for a night at the movies. You secure some help watching your loved one, settle in your seat at the theater with a drink and popcorn, then:
A) Walk out every 30 minutes to call home and make sure all is okay.
B) Fall asleep, and not because the movie is boring.
C) Enjoy the movie and call dibs on Brad Pitt.
3. You’ve been late for work 4 times in the past 2 weeks because you struggle getting your loved one fed and situated in the morning. Now, while you’re at work, they are calling 10 times a day having difficulty working the television remote and wondering when you are coming home. If this keeps up, your job may be in jeopardy. So, you:
A) Continue to take the calls and arrive late at work, hoping no one notices.
B) Tell them to stop calling you at work, then worry all day if they’re okay.
C) Contact your local Area Agency on Aging, the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the local United Way or even your church. Someone out there can be of assistance, and it’s time you found them.
4. You feel like you’ve almost got a handle on balancing caregiving with your normal daily schedule, but then the other shoe drops: your loved one isn’t sleeping well; therefore, neither are you. So, you:
A) Start taking lots of sleeping medication.
B) Continue to stay up long hours with your loved one hoping it’s just a phase.
C) Consult with your loved one’s physician for available solutions or arrange for someone else to take shifts if the sleeplessness continues.
5. Your caregiving is pulling you away from time with your spouse and kids and you’re feeling pressure from all sides, so you:
A) Tell your husband and kids to stop being selfish, that you might have more time for them if they would help more.
B) Remind them that you sure hope that they would do the same for you if/when you need caregiving.
C) Put your minds together and find a solution that provides more balance to everyone’s life without sacrificing the amount of care provided to your loved one (and please share that solution with us in the comments).
Round up your answers. If you selected C most frequently, you have a fair amount of balance in your life. Were you selecting A or B more often? These answers show that you could take some steps to regain balance.
Take a step back, regroup, and identify places you could make adjustments. The most sensible tip is to consider – and pursue – your various avenues for assistance. You’ve probably heard some of these before, and even tried a few. Maybe it’s time to revisit them. Try these ways to help you with the shift.
- Try or try again to enlist a relative in the caregiving effort. Perhaps something has changed in their life that gives them more available time or makes them more agreeable to chipping in.
- Find a support group and make time to take advantage of it. You may discover tips and resources that bring untold efficiencies and effectiveness to your caregiving efforts.
- Consider the possibility of enlisting a professional caregiver through a home health or personal care service. Insurance or Medicare may cover or help with the cost, and the benefit to your own well-being might make it well worth pursuing.