As caregivers, we become the eyes, ears and voices for our care receivers. We make sure that their concerns are voiced and that they correctly see and hear all that concerns them. We also lend our eyes and ears to medical professionals who provide care for our loved ones. Because we know more about our loved ones than the medical professionals do, it is important for us to continuously observe our loved ones and communicate changes in their physical, mental, behavioral and emotional health. While we may be tempted to dismiss a change as too slight or subtle to be of immediate importance, observing and sharing even subtle changes can make a huge difference in the care our loved ones receive. This can be done effectively by maintaining a log that gives date, time and type of changes observed. It is also helpful to write down any questions that we may have in connection to the changes we’ve observed. And, finally, we need to listen to the inner voice within us that may be urging us to seek immediate answers to the questions we have. Getting our questions answered as soon as possible could result in keeping our loved ones more independent and living longer.
With an estimated 40 million family caregivers in the U.S., employers are recognizing the value of those who are also members of the workforce. If you are working while caring for a loved one, AARP has resources including a video with tips for talking with your employer. (Copy the URL address into your computer search bar: https://learn.aarp.org/the-working-caregiver .
Be upfront with your employer regarding your caregiving responsibilities. If your company is small, talk with your boss, otherwise, your human resources manager who can tell you about policies and services such as caregivers’ support groups and respite care.
Make suggestions that accommodate your caregiving responsibilities yet are cost-effective for the company. Be creative. Explore options such as flextime, telecommuting, working from home one day a week, and utilizing allocated time off. And some employers are now offering paid leave for caregivers. You can also inquire whether you qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act.