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5 Ways to be Productive when Responsible for a Parent’s Care

5 Ways to be Productive when Responsible for a Parent’s Care

No one wants to think about growing old, especially people between the ages of 20 and 30. But if you’re helping a parent or grandparent, it’s in your face every day. And the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP study found that 25 percent of the 40 million caregivers in the United States are Millennials. Recently, family caregivers were predominately female over the age of 49, but it extends to men and the younger generations.

The problem with care-giving at a younger age is that you’re forced to compromise employment and deal with heavier stress than expected, and it puts a strain on your financial wherewithal. And the more hours you put in, the more complicated the role becomes. You begin to execute nursing or other complex care tasks, such as administering oral medicines or injections, wound care, or operating medical equipment.

It’s unfortunate, but care-giving forces you to postpone activities, rearrange work schedules, put off school, break appointments, and basically, hampers living a life at all. Taking care of someone you love is not clean or uncomplicated; it’s demanding, role changing, and chaotic. Once you’re in it, life is never the same, and it forces a person to grow in mind-boggling ways, hopefully, in behaviors that turn into lifelong attributes, if you’re lucky and wise.

Here’s how to make the care-giving role work better and not drag you down. You must set a priority to learn about long-term care support and services otherwise you’ll be a dreaded caregiver statistic. There’s no circumventing the emotional pressure of helping someone, but reaching out and asking for assistance is a surefire way to get your life back on track.

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1. Find Affordable Services

Meal delivery

    One in four family caregivers reports difficulty in finding affordable support and services like meals, transportation, or in-home care services in the community for a loved one. Here’s where to find solutions:

    • Meals on Wheels – There are more than 5,000 independently-run local programs. They receive funds from the Older Americans Act and contributions from local businesses, donors, and sponsors. Volunteers help make the program a national safety net for older adults living at home. Costs vary on the location branch.
    • Local senior centers – Many communities have a center for seniors. Meals are offered to go or in person and prices differ in cities.
    • Salvation Army – Some locations provide on-site and meal delivery for the elderly.
    • Visiting Nurses Associations – Local associations deliver fresh and frozen meals to residents for a low cost.
    • Area Agency on Aging – is a federally funded program that operates in local areas to maximize independence and health of older adults and people living with disabilities. They assist with locating low-cost personal care services and transportation.
    • Non-profits and local agencies make it possible for seniors to live at home by offering budget wise services like meal delivery. Do a local search online for family service agency. Most agencies can direct you to low-cost care and transportation services.
    • Paratransit Services – Provides cars, vans, or buses to collect and drop off individuals at their homes.
    • Veteran Transit Services
    • Senior transport and rideshare services like Uber delivers low-cost transportation services to senior riders.

    2. Get Senior Care Expert Help

    caregiving help

      There are professionals and programs that assist caregivers find information and help on topics like keeping loved ones at home and dealing with challenging behaviors.

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      3. Things Employed Caregivers SHOULD NOT DO

      caregiving should not do 1

        Balancing employment with giving care requires ingenious strategies. No employer wants to hire a person who jumps from job to job or who looks for an easy way out. Don’t take the easy road and make painful mistakes that will hurt a career down the road.

        Decisions that hurt your career:

        • Quit the job.
        • Take a leave of absence.
        • Change employment.
        • Whine and throw pity parties at work.

        4. Things Employed Caregivers SHOULD DO

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        caregiving should do

          Instead of making hasty and senseless decisions that batter your career later on, take time out and gather your wits. First, think about the options; the things that need your undivided attention on the job and at home (Tip: look at the suggestions below.) After that, talk to a supervisor or manager and share your ideas on how to remain productive at work. Emphasize the importance of being at the top of your game at work and at home helping a family member.

          • Work remotely from home.
          • Create a flex-schedule, one that works around a loved one’s schedule.
          • Use Skype or FaceTime to connect with your boss or a project team.
          • Learn about the Family and Medical Leave Act.
          • Check into part-time work or job sharing with the current employer.

          5. Stay on Top of the Caregiving Duties

          stay on top of caregiving

            It’s easy to monitor a loved one’s well-being and safety from a distance. There are several online tools to share (privately) health records and coordinate responsibilities with family members. The following tools helps track appointments and updates the family network.

            CaringBridge.org 

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            Lots of Helping Hands

            WebMD Health Manager

            HealthVault 

            Strength for Caring

            Electronic Scheduling

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            Last Updated on August 12, 2020

            When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

            When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

            Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

            In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

            How to Listen to Your Gut

            The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

            Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

            1. Tune Into Your Body

            Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

            However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

            Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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            Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

            In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

            2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

            Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

            There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

            3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

            Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

            As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

            This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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            4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

            As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

            Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

            5. Challenge Your Assumptions

            When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

            In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

            A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

            6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

            Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

            There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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            Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

            Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

            Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

            We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

            The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

            We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

            7. Trust Yourself

            It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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            Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

            If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

            The Bottom Line

            The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

            Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

            More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

            Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
            [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
            [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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