“Caregivers go through a crisis comparable to suddenly finding yourself in a totally foreign land,” elder care consultant Carolyn McIntyre tells Mary Alice Williams. “All of a sudden, you’re learning new terminology and meeting new medical specialists.

“We don’t say to ourselves at age 46, ‘I’m going to care for my parents or my husband’s parents’ … it’s something that sneaks up on us,” says McIntyre, who notes that 15 to 20 percent of caregivers will develop some kind of physical or emotional malady.

Her step-by-step approach to making the most of limited time includes joining online or onsite support groups — especially those that meet during working hours. Pfizer, she notes, provides onsite support programs during lunch hours and brings in social workers and benefits experts to speak to employees.

At the very least, being able to make crucial phone calls, do research on topics like living wills and exercise at the workplace saves evening and weekend time that caregivers can use to take better care of themselves and other family members.

“There are things you can do that are 20 minutes to two minutes long that can reduce stress,” McIntyre notes. These include everything from brief breathing exercises to designating a “worry tree” in one’s front yard where one leaves one’s work problems before entering the home.

# The Toll Caregiving Takes – and Preparations You Can Make (10:34)
# Savvy Strategies for Caregivers: Making Every Minute Count (10:14)

Back to Articles