Ways to balance demands on your time

Solutions to reduce pressures on your time include:

  • Setting healthy limits

  • Finding others who can help the older adult

  • Getting help with other tasks

  • Enjoying time with the older adult

Setting healthy limits

Everyone has limits to how much time and help they can give.

Ask yourself:

  • How much time can I give the older adult? Does that leave enough time for other family, friends, work, home and personal needs?

  • When am I available to help the older adult? What time will I keep for other things, including self-care?

  • Using my skills and available time, what help can I give the older adult?

  • Are there other ways I could help the older adult, if I had training or other support?

  • Are there tasks I can’t do or wouldn’t be comfortable doing for the older adult?

Be clear with yourself and others about your healthy limits.

  • Don’t immediately agree to take on new tasks. First, ask what they involve. Think about how doing them might affect your time, feelings and needs.

  • If you’re not sure about taking on new tasks, say so. Listen to your gut feelings.

  • Explore alternatives, like trying out new tasks for a short amount of time or sharing them with someone else.

  • If you know you can’t take on new tasks, say so. An honest no is better for everyone, even if it doesn’t feel that way at first.

  • Offer to help find family, friends, programs or paid help to do new tasks.

  • Discuss how you could help the older adult while staying within your healthy limits.

Encourage others to set their own healthy limits. Let them know that you appreciate how they help the older adult.

Finding others who can help the older adult

Think of family, friends or neighbors who could help the older adult, either regularly or every once in a while. Ask the older adult for other ideas.

Talk to those people. Discuss how each person could help the older adult. For example, people who live farther away could look up information or call references. Encourage each person to be honest about what they can do.

Ask the people helping the older adult if they want to share information through:

  • In-person discussions

  • Phone calls

  • Video chats

  • Email

  • Group text messages

  • Online calendars

  • Private online groups

  • Caring or caregiver apps for family and friends

Find community programs or paid helpers for the older adult by:

  • Contacting the local Aging and Disability Resource Center, Aging Unit, Area Agency on Aging or Senior Center

  • Asking caregiver support groups, social workers or health professionals for recommendations

  • Contacting local religious, community or service organizations

  • Searching for local respite care, adult day care, paid personal care, housekeeping or other in-home services using CaringWire

  • Visiting Medicare.Gov/HHCompare for information about home health agencies

  • Visiting BenefitsCheckup.Org and Benefits.Gov for information about state and national programs

Getting help with other tasks

Think about what you spend time on, over a day or over a week. Could others take on shopping, cleaning or other tasks for you?

Getting help with your routine tasks is part of self-care. It allows you to focus on what’s more important – whether that’s helping the older adult, spending time with family or friends, working or taking a break.

Find your helpers by:

  • Asking family, friends or neighbors

  • Asking for help via neighborhood email lists, newsletters or forums

  • Looking up providers on CaringWire

If not sleeping well, not seeing friends or missing your own medical appointments has become “normal” for you, you’re trying to do too much. Accept help from others. It’s better for your and the older adult’s health.

Enjoying time with the older adult

When you’re visiting or talking with the older adult, leave some time for fun. Share family news, look at pictures, enjoy music or take a walk together.

Enjoying time together can help you both reduce stress. It also strengthens your relationship with the older adult.