The holiday season in the U.S. means time off, right? Maybe not. Maybe for you it just means holiday pay or another day at the office, but if you are fortunate enough to get time away from “The Man” this year, don’t make the mistake of equating days off into free time because that’s probably not the case.
As a caretaker you may feel like you never have a day off. The responsibilities add up and they don’t cease for Christmas, Chanukah or New Year’s. The reprieve from work will buy you some time, but what about the family gatherings, religious services and, your favorite, shopping?
It’s likely that it’s not just your mom or dad counting on you for meals, bathing, or transportation: you have children as well. Or perhaps a husband that needs you for support and help around the house. So how do you handle all of these chores without falling apart at the seams?
1. Arm Yourself
We’re not calling for a N.R.A. movement in the blue states of New England, we’re talking about knowledge. Your loved one is battling several health issues. Multiple healthcare providers work together to pursue good health through various medications and practices. Make sure that you know the ins and outs of what they are currently facing and the typical problems that will arise in the future.
2. Don’t Forget About You
If you want to ensure that you’ll burnout soon, forget about yourself and focus solely on mom or dad. If you eat well, exercise and get enough sleep, you’ll be able to take better care of others and research the common issues associated with caregiving, like depression. Get yourself help if you need it.
3. Be Smart
Exhaustion isn’t just bad for your health, your abilities as a caregiver will suffer as well. Know your limits and respect them. Make a list of chores. Plan to take a break between them so you can do something to refocus. Yoga, reading, or any activity you enjoy will relieve stress and allow you to recharge your batteries.
4. Seek Help
Don’t let your brothers and sisters off the hook. Each can contribute something, whether it be time, money, or any other help. We are all busy, that’s not an excuse. It’s common for one person to fall into the spot of the primary responsibility while her (usually it’s a female) siblings and their spouses dodge duties. Don’t be afraid to use their monetary contributions to pay for respite care at a retirement community to give yourself a well-deserved break.
5. Know Your Rights
Because of the Family and Medical Leave Act, bigger businesses are required to give employees 12 weeks off annually—unpaid—to help an ill parent, spouse, or child. Talk to your supervisor about finagling your schedule so you can complete your work on time and fulfill your obligation to your employer.