By Allie Harris
If you are an entrepreneur, you already balance more things in one day than most people do in a week. Add to your list “caregiver” of not only your children, but now your parents, and whoa! With the aging of Baby Boomers, more and more women are finding themselves in the position of Sandwich Daughters. Alas, there is hope for us to balance it all, if we follow six simple rules:
- Hire Yourself
Treat your role of caregiver like you treat positions in your business. If you are hiring yourself as a caregiver, write down exactly what your role will be. If there are certain things that your parents need that are uncomfortable or unrealistic, find someone else to do them. If you have to hire a caregiver to shower Mom, or if you need to hire an agency to drive Dad to every medical appointment, that is okay- it’s not in your job description.
- Don’t Be All Things
Your job description does not include personal assistant, financial manager, housekeeper, cook, and social coordinator. Find the ways that you are able to connect with your parent and take on those tasks. For the rest, either delegate to others or hire a professional. If Mom loves going through the clutter in the living room and sharing stories, add just that to your job description.
- Claim Your Time
Set aside a set block of time per week that is focused on something that brings you joy and refuels you. If you think you have to stop going to your painting class because it is at the same time as Mom’s therapy session, you don’t. Reschedule therapy (or you can do therapy in the home) or find someone else to take her. If you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anyone else.
- Be Present
After you decide where you are allocating your time, make sure that during both times you are present. Don’t let thoughts of Mom’s bills enter your mind while you are in downward dog, and don’t spend your time with Dad talking about yoga. If you are with them, make it about them. If you are with you, make it about you.
- Accept Change
Just like your kids, your parents will change. It’s hard enough to see a parent as someone that needs care, and harder when you add in things like dementia, incontinence, and physical deterioration. Be prepared that if they come, you can’t change them.
- Seek Support
If everyone did this alone, there wouldn’t be a Senior Care industry. As someone who works everyday with families trying to figure out this puzzle, I can tell you that your situation, while certainly individual and important, is not rare. If you are unsure of what resources there are to support you, or what your options are, reach out to one of us in the industry to help.
Allie Harris serves as Client Care Manager for Home Care Assistance in Bethesda. She started her career with seniors as a caregiver while she was getting her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Communications and Wellness Marketing. Harris is passionate about working with families and those who are trying to age well wherever they call home. Connect with her on LinkedIn.