Ways To Strengthen Your Own Supports

Ways To Strengthen Your Own Supports

Solutions to keep you healthy while you’re helping the older adult include:

  • Getting support at work
  • Finding others who can help the older adult
  • Getting help with other obligations
  • Keeping up with friends and activities

Getting Support at Work

More employers are offering resources for employees who help older relatives.

Talk to your employer’s human resources or employee assistance program (EAP). They may offer “work/life” or “eldercare” services, such as support groups, legal or financial advice, informational resources, respite care, or sessions with care coordinators or case managers.

If you need to help the older adult during usual work hours, ask your employer about:

  • Flexible schedules, like short work weeks (four 10-hour days) or work outside of “regular” hours
  • Telecommuting
  • Job sharing
  • Leave-sharing policies where employees donate leave time to co-workers
  • Paid or unpaid time off, including through the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or state family medical leave laws

Ask workplace benefits specialists or retirement counselors for advice. For example, if you have a flexible spending account, you may be able to use the pre-tax funds to help pay for the older adult’s care. If you’re thinking about reducing your work hours to help the older adult, first find out how that will affect your pension, retirement, Social Security and other benefits.

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 ideas.

Talk to those people. Describe different ways 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 what each person doesn’t want to do, too.

Ask the people helping the older adult how they want to coordinate and share information:

  • In-person discussions
  • Phone calls
  • Video chats
  • Email
  • Group text messages
  • Online calendars
  • Private online groups
  • Caring or caregiver apps for family and friends

To find community programs or paid helpers for the older adult:

  • Contact the local Aging and Disability Resource Center, Aging Unit, Area Agency on Aging or Senior Center
  • Ask caregiver support groups, social workers or health professionals for recommendations
  • Contact local religious, community or service organizations
  • Search for local respite care, adult day care, paid personal care, housekeeping or other in-home services
  • Visit Medicare.Gov/HHCompare for information about home health agencies
  • Visit 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 more routine tasks is an important 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 to recharge.

You can find helpers by:

  • Asking family, friends or neighbors
  • Asking for help via neighborhood email lists, newsletters or forums
  • Using CaringWire's provider list
  • Using apps that match task needs with people nearby

If you’re regularly losing sleep, not seeing friends or missing your own medical appointments, then you don’t really have the time for everything you’re trying to cover. Accept help from others. It’s better for your and the older adult’s health.

Keeping Up With Friends and Activities

Set a regular time to meet with friends over coffee, a meal or favorite activity. Encourage friends and family to contact you. Say that you want to see them, even if you don’t call them as often.

Each day, try to find time to relax. Even a few minutes can help. You can:

  • Go for a walk
  • Listen to music
  • Read
  • Call a friend
  • Use techniques like focusing on the breath, visualizing a pleasant scene or relaxing muscles from one end of the body to the other