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Time Management

Caregiving can be very time consuming. The following are comments from DC caregivers about how they spend their time.
  • I spend my day taking care of all my mother's needs. I don't have much time to socialize. In the 10 years I've been a caregiver, I've lost touch with friends. I don't go out anymore because, until recently, I had no one to take care of her. Now I get some respite through the District of Columbia Caregivers' Institute Program and the Medicaid Waiver. I was able to bring in a lady to care for my mother at night so I could give my body a rest.
  • I help my mother bathe, dress, and get ready for the daycare van that picks her up. Sometimes the van is late. As a consequence, I've never really been able to get to work on time. My mornings are extremely hectic. Then, after work, I have to cook, wash clothes…I'm exhausted. I don't get breaks. It's very hard. My mother has more activities than I do. I'm not caring for myself as much as I would like.
  • If I'm not cleaning the house, we usually go out for walks or to visit friends. I try to take my mom out for awhile, or I may go out by myself. As long as she has everything she needs, I can go ahead and do what I want. I make sure she has food, can get to the bathroom, and has the telephone.
  • I spend my days and nights here with my husband. We can't go anywhere because he can't walk and I don't drive. I can't leave him alone for too long. I go shopping when the aide comes or when my friend comes. That's an opportunity for me to get respite.
  • I clean house, do all my washing, give my wife a bath, feed her, and turn her every two hours. I usually nap around 7 p.m. I'm up at 11 p.m. for her feeding, and I stay up until 5 a.m. The District of Columbia Caregivers' Institute pays for me to get respite. I would love to be able to visit my sick brother out of town, but to do that I would need someone to stay with her.

Practical Tips: Depending upon your elder's care needs, it may be difficult to find time for yourself, but here are some tips from DC caregivers to consider.
  • Don't feel guilty about taking a break.
  • Get help. Use services like adult day care or home health.
  • Send others to the doctor with the elder after the initial meeting.
  • Sleep when the elder sleeps.
  • Schedule "me" time and mark it on your calendar.
  • Start taking respite (breaks) in short intervals and gradually build up the time away. Realize that respite is not an option; it's a necessity
  • Although it may be preferable to have someone stay with the elder at all times, it may not be realistic. Make sure elders are safe and comfortable if you have to leave them alone for short periods.
  • Tell a trusted neighbor that your elder is alone so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
  • Train other family members, neighbors, or friends to take care of the elder.
  • Recognize that you can't do it alone.
Part of the Senior Service Network Supported by the D.C. Office on Aging