From Careerwoman to Caregiver: Parenting the Parent

Updated: Nov 5



Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance. It is rare I am ever hired by companies to address non work issues, but

when hired, I tend to address non work issues. A recent article on executive coaching stated

that only 3% of coaches are hired to address organizational or strategic matters, while

three-quarters of coaches typically address work-life balance. In a recent Linkedin survey,

38% reported the inability to achieve work-life balance and how it is a major challenge in

their employment. Let’s face it, work and life are inseparable. The more that a leader’s

home life is improved, the greater and more sustainable the impact the leader will have in

their job role and responsibilities

Let’s consider the most recent challenging work-life problem to date. Caregiving.


What Is Caregiving?

Caregiving is providing care and support to an aging or debilitated loved one. According to

Gallup-Healthways, it is estimated that caregiving and absenteeism cost over $300 billion

per year is lost productivity. The Alzheimer’s Association predicted that by 2050, the

amount of caregivers will increase by 85%. Sixty percent reported high levels of stress

with caregiving support. Over $200 billion is estimated to be spent in providing care, while

44,000,000 Americans are providing unpaid and informal care to their loved ones. It’s ever

a wonder why, according to studies on caregiver stress and compassion fatigue, that

caregivers’ mortality rates are higher than 63%. I can personally attest that I have

experienced exhaustion, ineffectiveness, burnout and even suicidality from 2007 through

2019 when I decided to trade my careerwoman hat for a caregiver hat for my mother who

was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.


How To Juggle Both?

The stress of trying to hold on to my career, completing my doctoral program, running my

business, being present in my relationship, and caring for my mom brought an incredible

amount of caregiver stress. Common challenges for caregivers include balancing a career,

loss of social life, adapting to a new normal, and finding time for self-care. I have been told

so many times to take care of myself first. But how, when recent studies show that nursing

homes are overcrowded and highly expensive, which leaves no choice but for caregivers to

care for their loved ones at home? The modern workplace is more competitive like never

before, and we all have personal financial needs to meet. How do you keep your job,

maintain your social life, and be at home with your loved one at the same time?


My Life Lessons

This hits home for me. In this article, I wanted to personally share my life lessons on

caregiving and what helped me to balance my career while being a diligent caregiver to my

Mom.


Accept the reality

I made the decision to take care of my Mom. The more I reminded myself that I accepted

this honor and responsibility that comes with blessings and consequences, the more it

lessened the blow and sting of caregiving. It wasn’t easy, but in the tough times it brought

Mom and me closer, made us stronger, and solidified our resilience.


Create positive coping strategies

As I accepted my new normal, I developed a routine around caregiving. I created a schedule

for myself on my wall in front of my bed so that I noticed available slots that I could ink

myself in for some me time and self care. Additionally, whatever made me happy, I made

sure I engaged in as often as possible. Therefore, have outlets for yourself wherever and

whenever possible.


Accept that you are mourning

It is said that when caring for one with Alzheimer’s, it is like experiencing death twice. The

first time when your loved one is diagnosed, and then the second time when they die. I

came to terms that I was grieving the loss of my Mom’s memory and physical well being.

Once I came to terms with this and extended myself grace, gentleness and kindness, I

slowly began to heal and it became just a little easier to care for Mom.


Do not feel guilty

For me, I decided to care for my mother at home. When it was extremely difficult, as my

siblings and I had a falling out as to who should care for Mom, I felt alone and became

immensely depressed due to the pressure and responsibility of caregiving and the

emotional toll it had on me. I did think about long term care options at that point. Do not

feel guilty if you are considering nursing home options. Do not feel like you are abandoning

or failing your loved one if you decide that a nursing home is best. It IS ok. Repeat after me,

IT IS OK! You do have a life, and one of your greatest responsibilities is to take care of

yourself first.


Collaborate with health care agencies

Seek help from professional health care agencies. Employ trusted family and friends to

support you in caring for your loved one. For five years, I was able to hire home health care

professionals to care for Mom while I completed my doctoral program. What a tremendous

honor to be hooded while my Mom was by my side, and though she may not remember the

occasion, her being there was memorable for me.


Get involved and advocate

I partnered and volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association and every year we went to

Capitol Hill to express our concerns and request for advocacy and support in ending

Alzheimer’s disease. Get involved with organizations directly involved with your loved one’s care, whether it is the corporation for aging, or cancer research, etc., and advocate for

your rights and support as a caregiver. Receive the support from these organizations and

take advantage of their support groups to meet other caregivers for further support and

love.


Advocate for your financial support, professional staffing, caregiver support services, more

professional health care services, so that the burden of responsibility no longer falls on you

in juggling and balancing everything. Hold your officials accountable in supporting

caregivers.


Create financial support

Do you know that there are grants that pays for caregiving support? I found grants for

caregivers! Google is amazing! Take advantage of all the resources that are available to

you. I found two programs near my home state: Delmarva Community Program and

Services My Way are two programs that pay caregivers to care for our loved ones! Explore

your options and see if taking advantage of these type of services is right for you.


Ask

Simply ask for help. See if your workplace can allow you to work remotely from time to

time. Take advantage of technological advancements, such as working from home and

monitoring your team from a distance. See if it is possible to have proxies to cover you

when you are caring for your loved one. Delegate! When I had a leadership position as

clinical manager, I was able to work from home some days after talking to my boss about

my caregiving responsibilities. Find out if there is flexibility for your situation.


If you apply these tips you can have the time to care for your aging and debilitated loved

one and achieve your work objectives. However, if you still have trouble achieving a

healthy work-life balance, contact us at LeadHER International for professional guidance

and allow us to care for the caregiver.


Your time for personal revolution is now: Are you able, ready, and willing to seize it?

Until then, Be Limitless and Discover Your Next.


What’s Your Next?




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