When you’re caregiving for someone, it’s hard to also hold down a full-time job. There will be times when you’ll need to take time off work, possibly even full days, and that means losing part of your paycheck. In addition to losing money, your boss might not be able to accommodate your need for time off without consequences to the company. This can put your job in danger.
In addition to losing pay for taking time off, it can be exhausting to be a caregiver and work full-time. If you’re a caregiver who also works full-time, here are some tips that will help you balance your caregiving duties with your job.
1. Get paid to be a caregiver
Are you caregiving for a relative or loved one without pay? There’s nothing wrong with gifting your time to care for someone. That’s actually a wonderful thing to do for someone. However, when you have bills to pay, not getting paid can disrupt your life.
The good news is that in most states, you can get paid to care for a loved one by the state. You can sign up for this directly through the state, or you can go through an organization that makes the process easier. For example, FreedomCare in New York makes it easy for people to become paid caregivers for their loved ones. In some cases, they offer benefits you won’t get when you go directly through the state.
When you’re getting paid for your caregiving duties, the time you take off work won’t be unpaid. Even if you don’t make as much caregiving as you do at your job, it will still help you pay your bills and compensate for the lost income.
2. See if you qualify for FMLA
If you work in California, you might be able to take unpaid time off through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). There are specific criteria you need to meet to be covered under the FMLA, but if you qualify, be ready to request time off when needed. Taking time off under this act will ensure that you don’t lose your job just because you’ve been gone for a while. If you just take time off without a formal FMLA request, your boss can find a reason to fire you and you won’t have any recourse.
3. Don’t handle your caregiving duties during working hours
This one might be tough for some people, but it’s important to keep your work separate and perform your caregiving duties only on your off time. If you need to make calls or go to appointments, schedule those activities for your lunch break or after work. You might be risking your job by performing these duties while on the clock.
If you have an understanding employer, they might not mind if you do some of your caregiving work while on the clock. However, if you haven’t had that discussion with your boss, don’t assume it’s okay. If you want to bring up the topic,ask for a flexible work schedule and go from there.
4. Hire additional help
You can’t caregiver for someone by yourself. It’s not only physically impossible, but if you manage to make it work, you’re going to be exhausted all of the time. Caregiver burnout is real and it’s not the kind of exhaustion you can recover from by getting a good night’s sleep. The effects can be long-lasting and intense no matter how well you sleep.
If you don’t have anyone to help with your caregiving duties, hire a private caregiver to fill in the gaps. You will need to pay full price for a private caregiver, but if you or the person you’re caring for has the funds, it’s worth every penny. If you don’t have the funds for a private caregiver, talk to someone from your local Agency on Aging and find out how to get a caregiver from the state. If the person you’re caring for qualifies, they can get free or discounted caregiving services allocated to them by weekly hours.
Don’t turn down free or discounted caregiving services from the state just because it’s not much. For example, if you’re allotted five hours per week, take those five hours. It may not seem worth it, but that’s five hours you’ll have to tend to your own life and/or other responsibilities.
Caregiving is challenging, so don’t do it alone
No matter what, don’t try to be a solo caregiver; it won’t work. Sooner or later you’ll burn out or push the limits of your job. Get as much help as possible, whether it’s through the state or by hiring private help.
Every hour of help counts.