Updated: Nov 5, 2020
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?