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Running a business and caregiving: can you do both?

 

Question: I quit my job outside the home two years ago to stay home with mom full time (she lives with me and has for five years). Now I work in my home. My frustration is with the lack of time I have to do my business because mom has gotten worse and requires more care. I'm lucky to have a full hour and half in one sitting. She is losing her ability to comprehend and communicate. I need to learn how to better manage my time and my business. After I have written all of this and reread it, I'm not even sure what my question is. I am so tired and mentally exhausted. There isn't a single moment that I'm relaxed. What can I do?

Dr. Amy: Your mother is an exceptionally lucky woman to have such a caring and devoted daughter. But as you have come to realize, caring for someone with dementia while trying to run a business is a recipe for burnout. It’s not that you aren’t doing enough or need to get better organized. It’s just not a realistic situation. Something has to give and in your case it sounds like it’s your health and peace of mind.

You need a rest now and you need help going forward. Your challenge is to figure out where the help will come from, and when you need it. I encourage you to structure your day so that you can spend the time you need to on your business; ensure your mom is well cared for; and spend time outside of the house every day. If you can afford it, home care or an adult day program for people with dementia are excellent sources of support. You can also call your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what supports your county offers.

That proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child applies at the other end of life too. It’s an enormous challenge to care for a loved one full time. People who haven’t walked in your shoes and done what you are doing can’t fully understand everything that goes into providing daily care. I encourage you to build a network of people who can provide you both with the task support and emotional support you need. Good luck!

 

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