Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

      Advertising

      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

        Advertising

        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 

            Advertising

            Lots of Helping Hands

            WebMD Health Manager

            HealthVault 

            Strength for Caring

            Electronic Scheduling

            More by this author

            5 Ways to be Productive when Responsible for a Parent’s Care 25 Best Websites That Save Time and Stress When Giving Care 4 Brilliant (and Slightly Badass) Ways to Get More Jobs

            Trending in Communication

            1 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 2 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener 3 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day 4 What Is the Meaning of Life? A Guide to Living With Meaning 5 How to Stop Being a Perfectionist (Step-by-Step Guide)

            Read Next

            Advertising
            Advertising
            Advertising

            Last Updated on October 22, 2020

            8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

            8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

            How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

            Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

            When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

            Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

            What Makes People Poor Listeners?

            Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

            1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

            Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

            Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

            It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

            2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

            This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

            Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

            3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

            It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

            Advertising

            I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

            If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

            4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

            While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

            To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

            My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

            Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

            Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

            How To Be a Better Listener

            For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

            1. Pay Attention

            A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

            According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

            As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

            Advertising

            I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

            2. Use Positive Body Language

            You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

            A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

            People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

            But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

            According to Alan Gurney,[2]

            “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

            Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

            3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

            I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

            Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

            Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

            Advertising

            Be polite and wait your turn!

            4. Ask Questions

            Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

            5. Just Listen

            This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

            I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

            I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

            6. Remember and Follow Up

            Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

            For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

            According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

            It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

            7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

            If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

            Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

            Advertising

            Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

            Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

            NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

            1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
            2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

            8. Maintain Eye Contact

            When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

            Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

            By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

            Final Thoughts

            Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

            You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

            And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

            More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

            Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
            [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
            [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
            [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

            Read Next