Dear DFS: How Can I Care for My Mother AND My Children?

Dear DFS,

I am proud to say that I am currently working full-time, but in addition to balancing my career and caring for my two children, my mother is older in age and has recently fallen ill, so I am now tending to her, as well.  I obviously love my mother with all of my heart, but I am not sure how much longer I can keep up this juggling act—or if I am even the best person to be caring for her.  I’m obviously no millionaire, but do you know of where I might look for help or have any advice on how I can better manage this situation?

Fingers crossed,

Lucia

Corpus Christi, TX

Below are some answers from the Career Coaches affiliated with Dress for Success Triangle in North Carolina:

Hello Lucia – First, let me say congratulations on your full-time position.  I recognize balancing your responsibilities as a working mother can be very challenging, but I am confident you will succeed.  I assume you do not have other family members that can share the care of your mother in the local area.  If not, there are two programs that may be able to provide some additional support.  Your current employer may have what is known as an EAP (employee assistance program).  These services can often help you find resources and support for a variety of work life balance challenges.  They may also be able to provide referrals for elder care programs nearby.  You can ask your human resources representative for more information.  Also, you can contact your local social services department.  Dependent upon your mom’s age and condition, she may qualify for benefits that can help support her care.  I hope these options work for you.  Stay encouraged. – Tomesah Harrison

Caring for your ill mother can be a huge challenge.  Most importantly, take care of yourself so you are better able to juggle all your responsibilities.  Be sure to ask for help!  This can be from friends or community resources (church or civic).  Fortunately, the state of Texas where you are located has a Department of Aging and Disability Services with an extensive website.  The website includes lists of options for adult day care, assisted living facilities, home healthcare, home- and community-based programs, free-standing nursing homes, hospital-based nursing homes and residential care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  If you care for someone 60 or older, you can call 1-800-252-9240. Your local AAA may be able to help you find services in your area, help arrange for those services and provide short-term relief.  Support groups may be helpful to vent your frustrations and get advice from people in similar situations.  Take Time Texas challenges caregivers to take some time for themselves and reach for information, support and assistance. To encourage caregivers to take that time, the Texas Respite Coordination Center was created to offer caregivers and respite care providers services, resources and educational materials.  Texas has 28 local area agencies on aging (AAA) contract with to help people 60 and older and their caregivers find the information they need to locate and access community services, including benefits counseling/legal assistance; care coordination; information; referral and assistance; legal awareness; and an ombudsman program.  There is a wealth of resources out there – be persistent in reaching out for help!  – Lois Bronstein

I’m so sorry to hear about your mother and have encountered this issue on both sides: the unexpected care taker and the one needing the help for themselves. I have found in almost every city, there are organizations that help people on various levels such as house cleaning, transportation to doctors or simply a friendly visit for a chat. They usually are found under social services. I located an organization named Elderly Care at Home: Free Elder Care in the Home.  This, of course, is presuming your mother is eligible for senior services. If they can’t help, they should be able to direct you to a nonprofit that can. – Joy Carter

If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program, please check it out. They may be familiar with elder and child care resources. To find out more, check with Human resources department or whomever is in charge of benefits.  – Kioka Dunston

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