Seniors experiencing a loss of autonomy
Balancing caregiving with other family responsibilities
Do you have a hard time balancing your role as a caregiver with your everyday responsibilities as a parent or spouse? No need to worry – you can learn how to reconcile these two activities to better cope with temporary imbalances. Here are some solutions to help you achieve equilibrium between your responsibilities as a caregiver and your role in your family, on a day to day basis.
Signs of a poor work‑life balance
Irritability, moodiness, unusual behaviour… There are many signs that can indicate that you're having difficulty balancing your role as a caregiver with your role as a parent or spouse. Here are a few examples.
- Emotional burn-out: Persistent fatigue, loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy, difficulty managing stress, feeling overwhelmed, bad mood, irritability
- Health issues: digestive problems, physical pain, nausea, headaches, problems sleeping
- Family tensions: lack of family time, difficulty communicating, challenges at school for the children, relationships that are tense, unstable, or deteriorating, development or aggravation of conflicts
To better prevent imbalances, be vigilant for these types of problems; over time, you can learn how to spot the red flags.
Learn how to clearly communicate your needs to your immediate family
Good communication can help you understand each other better and strengthen your family bond. Here are a few tips to enhance your daily communication with your family.
Identify your needs
For example, you may want to express your need for:
- new challenges
- help with household chores or with the person you're caring for
Don’t be afraid to clearly express how you feel. If you need help with everyday activities such as housecleaning, your children's homework, caregiving, etc., say so clearly. For example, rather than saying you don’t have enough time, let them know how much time you’ll need to complete an activity.
Learn to listen
Your family members should also feel comfortable enough to talk to you when they have concerns. It’s therefore important to create an atmosphere of trust to prevent everyone’s emotions from building up and reaching a point of no return.
Also, remember that blaming others won’t help you find a solution but may actually worsen the situation. Instead, try to understand everyone’s point of view.
Be patient and understanding
It may take several conversations before you're able to express yourself calmly and respectfully, but don't be discouraged. Adopting a positive attitude and working together will help you find solutions to enhance your everyday communication and meet everyone’s needs.
Create a family council to discuss everyone’s needs and tasks
The family council is a space for dialogue where family issues and goals can be discussed in a calm and respectful manner. It gives each member a voice, allows the family to make important decisions quickly, and helps everyone work together towards a common goal.
The family council can also allow you to delegate tasks you're used to doing yourself. By involving your family, you can save valuable time in your day.
Here are the steps to create a family council:
- Define your objectives: The main purpose of these meetings is to resolve problems, make decisions together, and encourage positive and respectful communication.
- Choose council members: Anyone involved in the day-to-day life of the family and the person being cared for can become a council member.
- Set clear rules: Determine how often your meetings will be, how you’ll vote, and how to determine who will speak (the approach can be as simple as holding an object in your hand when speaking, for example).
- Schedule your council meetings: At the end of each council meeting, schedule your next one and encourage each member to think about topics they would like to discuss.
- Allocate tasks: At the council meeting, identify the tasks to be completed and appoint a family leader who will pass on important information to all the participants, provide encouragement, and help the others become independent and participate during the week.
Create a family calendar to better manage your time
Organizing your schedule will give you a better overview of the tasks to be completed, everyone's appointments, family activities, etc.
Here are few tips for creating a family calendar:
- Choose your calendar: Use a weekly or monthly layout to write down all your obligations.
- Identify your daily activities: Add recurring activities and appointments for each family member, including the person experiencing a loss of autonomy (medical appointments, music classes, soccer practice, etc.).
- Make a list of daily tasks, including household chores and tasks involving the person being cared for: Place them in order of priority or by activity (cleaning, grocery shopping, caregiving, etc.) and use a colour code to identify them easily. Add them to the calendar and indicate the person responsible for each task, or prepare a section for each family member with their respective tasks.
- Keep your calendar up to date: Since there are likely to be unforeseen events during the week, make changes to accommodate each person's schedule, and remain flexible if necessary.
- Make sure the calendar is visible and accessible to everyone: Place your calendar at a convenient location (for example, on the refrigerator) or use a digital calendar that everyone can access easily.
The family calendar can help you balance your role as a caregiver with your role as a spouse or parent. You'll be able to keep track of important events during the week or month and to adapt to the needs of each family member. It will even allow you to schedule some time off.
Create a support network
Ask for help from people in your immediate circle or your extended family
Creating a support network helps to ensure that the needs of the person being cared for are met and that their well-being is maintained, even when you feel overwhelmed.
By involving the members of your family and people in your immediate circle, you can distribute everyday tasks and health care more evenly, which will help you save time and prevent burnout.
Here are a few tasks you can allocate:
- housework and everyday tasks: housecleaning, meals, grocery shopping, etc.
- providing personal care
- travelling for appointments
- paying bills
- ensuring that medications are taken
- organizing home care services: Meals on Wheels, home nursing, caregiving schedule, etc.
To create your support network, first take the time to draw a caremap to identify your network (L’Appui). Once the caremap is created, you can easily identify the people you can call on for help.
Identify the medical support network available to help you with everyday tasks
Health and social services workers, such as nurses and social workers, can help the person you're caring for on a daily basis and relieve you as a caregiver. There are also services to help them with their adjustment, such as therapists, occupational therapists, etc.
You can also call on community services to provide home care – for example, they can help the person you’re caring for bathe, eat, or get dressed, and they can support you as a caregiver.
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The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.