So many of us can become the primary caregiver for another adult in the blink of an eye. All it takes is an unexpected tragedy, like an accident, stroke, or cancer diagnosis. This sad reality is a challenge that more than one in five, or 53 million, Americans face.
If you’re a solo-entrepreneur or run your own business, balancing caregiving and work responsibilities can be especially challenging. Here are five steps you can take for your customers and your loved one.
1. Set Expectations for Your Clients
Working caregivers spend an average of 20 hours a week providing care, so time and flexibility are what you need the most. Obtaining that extra time requires a mindset adjustment and laying groundwork for both your business and home life. Meet with your clients about your situation and assess their true needs and expectations of your business while you balance caregiving. They will appreciate your proactiveness.
2. Create a Plan for Backup Support at Work
If you have employees, cross-train them. If you are a solo entrepreneur, work with a friend or colleague who understands your business and could be prepared to jump in if needed.
3. Review Your Business and Personal Finances
Caregiving costs on average about $7,000 a year and should be factored into your financial planning. As a business owner, take time to review your annual budgets and cash flow to ensure it can handle any fluctuations in revenue. On the personal side, budget for medicine, groceries, healthcare, travel expenses, and housing maintenance for your loved one and make sure your emergency funds are well-stocked. Also, see that you and/or your loved ones have the necessary insurance to cover potential needs and consider purchasing short-term disability insurance that provides income replacement.
4. Embrace Technology
Explore ways to save time using technological innovations. For example, meeting a client over a conference call instead of in-person could save hours of commuting and preparation time. In addition, work with vendors or consultants to streamline processes, such as automating invoicing or content updates, and integrate those into your business.
5. Prepare Your Home and Caregiving Team
After assessing your home set-up to ensure it can accommodate a caregiving situation, reaching out to family and friends will help prepare you for your new role. In forming your care team, consider many sources of support, including family members, friends, and members of your church or other community groups. You can also explore hiring in-home help to assist with caregiving if that fits within your budget. Many organizations also provide support for family caregivers, including AARP and the National Family Caregivers Association.
As you complete these steps, please don’t neglect your own health because you are a caregiver. Take care of yourself by watching your diet and taking time for exercise and sleep.