Are you a working caregiver who travels for work? How do you balance your caregiving duties when you go on the road? Read on for some business travel tips.
Last year a Washington Post article highlighted some of the ways large companies are making business travel more manageable for parents. Private equity company KKR pays for new parents to bring their child and a nanny on business trips up until the baby turns one. IBM and other companies pay for breast milk to be shipped home while mothers are on the road for work. While it is fantastic to see companies finding ways to make managing work and life easier, we still aren’t seeing much support for workers caring for a sick or aging parent. Have you heard of a company that will pay for you to bring your elderly parent and a Certified Nursing Assistant on a business trip? Me neither. But maybe some day.
In the meantime, what can a working caregiver who travels for business do to make the situation manageable? Here are 8 tips for working, and traveling, daughters.
- Consider respite care. Respite care is temporary help for a caregiver. You can find respite in the form of a short-term stay for the person you care for at a professional care facility, or you can hire someone to stay with the person who needs care. This is a good, albeit pricey, option if the person you care for needs round-the-clock attention. Read The Simple Way To Find Respite Care.
- Ask for help from friends, family, your local elder services agency, or your religious organization. If your parent can manage alone but needs help with specific tasks such as bathing, medication, meals, or errands, you may just want to call in a favor and line up someone to check on them daily. My father is in an assisted living facility so there is staff to help him out when I am away. I ask my out-of-state sister to call him more frequently when I am away and I tell my Dad to call my husband if he needs anything.
- Give your parents some notice but avoid “moving facts.” Let your parent know you need to travel for work; don’t avoid the topic. The key is to give your parent some advance notice so he or she can prepare, but to also have the plan in place when you do. Wait to tell them about the trip once you have that plan in place, but don’t wait so long you surprise them at the last minute. Avoid telling them, “I will be traveling next month and I don’t yet know who will assist you.” Also avoid, “I’m leaving in the morning for a week.”
- Resist guilt as best as you can. Know that your parent may be anxious or even angry about your trip. That’s okay’ their feelings are just that – their feelings. Don’t let them stop you from doing what you need to do for your job. You have every right to earn a living and have a life. Don’t apologize. Just reassure them that you will do what you can to minimize disruptions to their care and routines. Caregiver, you have every right to earn a living and have a life. #workingdaughter Click To Tweet
- Create a backup plan now. Regardless of whether you need a professional or a volunteer family member to assist you with your caregiving responsibilities, and regardless of whether you have a business trip planned or not, it’s a great idea to create a backup caregiving plan before you need it. You could get sick, get invited to the event of the century, have to work over time, or simply crave some time off to yourself. Build a network of support before you need it. Research respite in your area. Know which family members you can call for help. Locate and familiarize yourself with eldercare agencies and adult day care services in your area. If your parent is alert and cooperative, include them in the plan; let them have a say in their own care.
- Keep all of your facts together and ready to communicate. Before you go, share the following with your backup care providers:
- Medication list
- Emergency contact information
- DNR and other advanced directives
- Insurance information
- Daily schedule
- Ask your company for support. If your company does offer support for parents who travel, ask them to consider the same support for workers with parents. Approach them with a specific plan: are you looking for financial assistance with backup care providers or assistance with finding the care? Your request should be comparable to the support offered parents. Explain the benefit to the company – if you have quality care, you will be better able to focus on the objectives of your trip or stay away for a longer period of time, for example. Then expect objections. All negotiations are a process and rarely finalized in one conversation. Stay unemotional and come back with more facts and perhaps more support from your fellow working caregivers.
- Schedule time to check in. If you want to check in with your parent or theircaregiver while you are on the road, book time on your calendar. Otherwise, the day can get away from you, especially if you are in a different time zone. Most of my travel is to California, and my father is in Massachusetts. If I don’t schedule our calls, it’s easy for me to forget he is three hours ahead.
You might also like: