Throughout this pandemic, many of us have been working from home. It’s so common these days to hear of the challenges that working parents have with their kids continuing school remotely. However, it’s far less common to be aware of the difficulties that working caregivers experience. With the fear of exposing aging parents to the virus, many have stopped allowing professional help into the home. This increases the stress and work adult children will face, whether they live with their aging parents or not. But balancing working from home and elder care is not impossible during the pandemic.
This article from Harvard Business Review offers some suggestions. For those balancing working from home and elder care, setting your aging parent up for success is important. If you live with them, find time each morning before work to connect and create a calm, structured day for them. Routine is important for anyone’s success, but especially seniors. Ultimately, this will set everyone up for success.
Secondly, set boundaries. Let your parents know that even though life may seem different since you’re home all day, your work obligations have not changed. Since your parents likely retired many years ago, they are probably not accustomed to being able to have a full work day using just technology to connect. While this may be a confusing concept to some aging parents, let them know when you can and can’t be disturbed.
Additionally, you can minimize interruptions by discussing with them what warrants one. For example, maybe your parent is a fall risk. In this case, it’s likely that any time they need to go up or down the stairs, you’d like to be with them. The same kind of discussion is useful for those who do not live with their parents. Discussions about when and what you can take calls from them about will clear up any uncertainties they may have. However, it’s important to note that if your parent has dementia, these boundaries may be unintentionally broken. If this happens, gentle reminders will be helpful.
Finally, we have never experienced a crisis quite like the one we are in now. Therefore, balancing working from home and elder care is going to have some bumps in the road. Just like any new endeavor. Expect and be okay with imperfection throughout the process.