Work-Life Balance: How to Care for Your Parents and Yourself

When people talk about balancing working and parents, they typically mean being working parents and balancing their home life with their family life. However, as American continues to age, the phrase “working parents” can also be twisted to apply to balancing a full-time job and caring for your aging parents at home. Although juggling the two can be stressful, there are ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance while caring for your elderly parents. In honor of Working Parents Day on September 16, here are some guidelines for balancing your job with caring for your parents.

Tips for working while caring for aging parents

First, talk to your boss. Although it may be an uncomfortable situation to let your boss know what issues you’re dealing with, it’s important to be clear and upfront about what’s going on. Now, this doesn’t mean spilling every last detail about your parents’ health, but a general overview while emphasizing your commitment to work will get the job done. In many cases, your boss may even be sympathetic from having dealt with the situation themselves. Your boss will be able to lay out your options for you regarding medical leave, flex time, or working from home.

Next, research programs and assistance that will help you care for your parents. For example, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows covered employees up to three months of unpaid leave for care for a family member with a serious health condition. You may also be entitled to other assistance from other government programs and services; these can provide benefits to lessen your financial burden. The government-hosted benefits site Govebenefits.gov has more information.

Also, make sure that you’re adjusting your budget and financial plans if you’re having to take unpaid time off of work. Plan ahead of time where you can make some sacrifices so that you’re not caught unaware when it’s time to pay bills. It’s also important to keep in mind that while quitting your job may seem like the best solution so that you can be fully present, you need to keep your own retirement in financial future a priority.

Finally, reach out to family and friends for support. Although it may fall on you to be the primary caretaker for your parents, friends and family can help fill in the gaps when you need a break, or can provide indirect support by running errands, assisting with paperwork, and more. You don’t have to take care of your parents all by yourself; there are plenty of people willing and able to help you out.

Caring for your aging parents is one of the most important things you’ll ever do, and although it can get overwhelming, you can balance caring for your parents with working at your job. By staying organized, communicating openly with your colleagues, and asking for help when you need it, you can help your parents age comfortably at home.

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