Continuing Your Life When You’re a Caregiver
Balance is one of those words that is thrown around without any regard to how difficult it is continuing with your life when you’re a caregiver. It’s hard to achieve balance when you’re in second place in your own world. What if you need to keep working or attend to other responsibilities? What if you want to keep living the rest of your life? How do you reconcile all the feelings that emerge when you remember that you have other needs and wants beyond the person with aphasia?
To Work or Not to Work
Sometimes whether or not to work isn’t a choice. There are bills to pay and your team needs you as much as your loved one with aphasia.
Working remotely may not be ideal, but it may be an option that allows you to get work accomplished while still being there for your loved one. Be open with your boss or co-workers and ask them if a remote arrangement is possible; either for a short period of time or on an on-going basis a few times per week.
If you can’t work remotely and you need to go to your workspace, set up a schedule with your dream team so your loved one has coverage when you need to be away. Speak to your HR department and find out what accommodations can be made so you can take time off without losing your position.
When Work is an Escape
At the same time, you may actually look forward to continuing to work while being a caregiver. Work can be a wonderful distraction, something in your control when you’re frustrated by your loved one’s aphasia journey. It can be an outlet where you feel useful.
And frankly, that is no small thing. Work may serve as a pressure valve, similar to therapy, and allow you a few hours to regroup and focus on something else. Going to work, even for a few hours a day, may turn you into a better caregiver if it gives you space from the caregiving experience.
Taking Care of Your Needs
Of course, trying to split your emotional energy between work and caregiving can be a recipe for disaster, especially when you ignore all other needs necessary for balance. What about exercise, eating well, or simply reading a book in somewhere other than a waiting room? What about having a few hours a day that are still yours to spend outside of work and the caregiving experience?
This is where your dream team [LINK] can step in and ensure that you don’t feel guilt over working, not working, resting, or not resting. When you know that someone else is entertaining your loved one, it’s easier to leave for work. And when your co-workers have your back, it’s easier to leave the workspace and feel fully present with your loved one. You need time away from caregiving to keep doing all the things that you would normally be doing if aphasia wasn’t in the picture, and your dream team can help that happen.
Take the steps you need in order to feel as if you’re not pulled in multiple directions at once but instead are balancing the multitude of needs and wants on your to-do list. Feeling that balance will turn you into the best caregiver you can be.
We’re rolling out four posts directly for caregivers for Aphasia Awareness Month. Jump back to read the first one or second one because this is the third one in the series.
Image: Aperture Vintage via Unsplash
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