Starting a new business is already a challenging and time-consuming task. Still, if you’re also caring for elderly parents, it can feel like an unfeasible balancing act. There’s the need to ensure you are doing what it takes to run the business and the guilt that can come from not being able to give your parents the care and attention they need and deserve.
It doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario, however. With careful planning and creative thinking, it is possible to successfully run a business and care for elderly parents simultaneously.
Here are five tips to help you manage both your business and your family obligations:
1. Planning Ahead Is Key
The first and most crucial step is to plan ahead as much as possible. This means having a clear idea of your business goals and also understanding your parents’ needs and how those needs might change over time.
If your parents are still relatively healthy, it might be possible for them to continue living independently with some help from you. But suppose they have chronic health conditions or are starting to experience cognitive decline. In that case, you need to be prepared for the possibility that they will eventually need more substantial care.
You also need to consider what would happen if something happened to you. Who would take over the business? Who would care for your parents? Having a plan for these eventualities will help ensure that your business and your family are taken care of if something happens to you.
2. Keep Communication Channels Open
Good communication is essential when balancing running a business and caring for elderly parents. You have to update your employees on your situation and be clear about what you need from them regarding support. For example, if you need to take time off to care for your parents, let your employees know so they can plan accordingly.
You should also keep lines of communication open with your parents. Talk to them about their needs and concerns, and be honest about what you can and cannot do. It might be helpful to put together a care plan that outlines their needs and how you will be able to meet those needs.
Let’s say you will be out on a business trip two weeks from now. You need to let them know of your plans, arrange for someone to check in on your parents, help them with any needs, and keep you updated on how they are doing.
3. Delegate Tasks As Needed
To successfully juggle your hectic schedule at home and at work, you need to be willing to delegate tasks as required. There is no point trying to do everything on your own when people are eager to help and have the capabilities to do so.
This might mean delegating tasks to employees or hiring a virtual assistant to help with some of the more time-consuming tasks at work. Consider the time-consuming tasks that you can assign to someone else. This can help you free up some precious time to focus on your parents or work on other roles in the business.
You might need to delegate some caregiving duties to other family members or friends at home. If no one is available or your senior parent’s needs require more specialized care, you can hire a professional home health aide. These trained individuals can help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and grooming, as well as providing companionship and light housekeeping services.
Of course, you need to do enough research before hiring a health aide to keep them company, help them with anything they need, and keep you in the loop. Find one from a reputable home health care provider specializing in the care your loved one needs. For instance, if your senior parent needs hospice care, you want someone dependable and have experience caring for hospice patients. This will help ease your mind while you’re away and ensure that your parent gets the best possible care.
4. Take Advantage of Technology
Technology can be a huge help when trying to improve elderly care and business management. For one, many apps and online tools can help you stay organized, communicate effectively, and keep track of your loved ones’ health.
For example, the CareZone app helps users manage medications, doctor’s appointments, and other health information for their loved ones. CaringBridge website and app allow people to share updates and receive support from loved ones during difficult times. The Life360 app allows users to create geo-fences, monitor the movements of family members in real-time, and even send alerts if someone ventures beyond a certain distance.
The important thing is to identify which tasks are your priorities and which ones you delegate or automate. Once you have a good handle on that, you can start to look for ways to use technology to make your life easier.
Take Care of Yourself
You cannot take care of your loved ones if you do not take care of yourself. Failure to care for your own health and well-being will only make it harder for you to care for your parents. Make sure to schedule time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes each day. Use that time to have fun, enjoy, and relax.
Don’t forget to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. It might be tempting to skip meals or stay up late working, but that will make you more susceptible to illness. When you’re not feeling well, it’s even harder to care for someone else.
Remember to also find ways to reduce your stress levels. Studies show that entrepreneurs have higher levels of stress than the general population. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation when feeling overwhelmed. You can also talk to a therapist or counselor if you need help managing your stress.
Starting a new business is hard enough on its own. But also caring for aging parents can feel like an impossible task if you’re also caring for aging parents. However, by planning ahead, delegating tasks among a supportive network of family and friends, using tech, and taking care of yourself, it is possible to successfully manage both a new business and an aging parent’s care.