For women who Rock their Role in work and life

Archive for the tag “carers”

Caring for ageing parents

Caring for elderly parents

Caring for elderly parents

As I visited my grandmother in hospital this week, with my Mum by her side and my daughter by mine.  I was struck by the fact that it is nearly always the woman’s responsibility to be the carer for elderly relatives.  We usually do it willingly and without thinking about it, but nevertheless it is usually down to us.

Combine that with having your own children and a career and there isn’t much space for you in the picture.  My Mum is devoted, she works a full day as a teacher and visits my grandmother every single day, she wouldn’t think of doing anything else.  Even if my grandmother is grumpy or ungrateful one day she keeps coming back the next.

When it’s a week of even a month of someone being ill you can just about handle it but my grandmother has been in hospital for over two months and will need caring when she leaves.  I know my Mum is not alone, my sister-in-law was recently in this position, with two young children, a partner, a home and career to manage it wasn’t easy.  With women in particular living longer, the likelihood is that many of you reading this will be in the same position.

So how do you cope?  I don’t think that there are any easy answers.  We love our relatives, and love means that we do extraordinary things: self-less, kind and maybe illogical things to care for them.

Here are some suggestions, but I would love to hear yours:

Decide on how much time, you will give – you can spend 3 hours or thirty minutes visiting a relative, does the quantity of time matter? Is just seeing you good enough? How does the amount of time affect you?  Maybe one hour feels good, 2 hours feels exhausting or you start thinking about all of the other things that are piling up that you need to do.  Only you can decide.

Don’t wait for others to offer – I am sorry to say it but others don’t think.  They often don’t think to offer, especially if you are demonstrating that you are self-sufficient and have it all under control.  Maybe others cant visit every day, but at least once a week to give you time off with the piece of mind that they are checking to ensure everything is OK.

Don’t make ‘carer’ your only role in life – studying, working, time out with friends gives you an identity, in addition to the role of carer, and they will be a welcome reprieve so don’t let them drift.  Explain your situation to your employer, tutor etc, so that they’ll understand if you are not performing at your peak.

In the UK, there is sometimes a small allowance for carers, which might enable you to go for a massage a few times a year.  Whatever you can do to have some respite time, do it, it will keep you sane.

This is definitely not easy and I recommend that you talk to others if it is becoming too much for you.

Good Luck and wishing the happiest and healthy life possible for you and yours.

I am Jenny Garrett, Executive Coach, founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy and author or Rocking Your Role – the how to guide to success for female breadwinners. Find out more about me, my programmes, speaking engagements and training at and sign up for my newsletter


Forget the squeezed middle, what about squeezed women

This week I have been sandwiched between the young and old in my life until it felt like I was squeezed dry and there was little left of me.

It couldn’t be helped, I was called by my daughters school when she fell off a climbing frame (note they didn’t even try to call Daddy, assuming it would be much easier for Mummy to drop any of the unimportant things she does) I then had to race across London to get to her and spend a number of hours in the urgent care unit.

The next day when working from home, I received a call that my grandmother was having trouble breathing so had to cancel my telephone meetings and ended up riding with her in the ambulance to hospital and then staying with her for a number of hours while the doctors and nurses provided a variety of tests to get to the bottom of the problem.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I am complaining because I am glad that I can be there for those closest to me, especially in an emergency. But I wanted to highlight the plight of many squeezed women.

It is not just children, work and partners that you need to spread yourself thin with but also likely to be parents and grandparents.

Waiting around in hospitals feels pointless at the best of times, but with preparation for workshops to do it becomes particularly frustrating. When you need to leave ultra early and know that it is going to be difficult for your daughter to get dressed without you due to her injury it is just another thing to think about.

The squeezed woman can and will definitely rise to the challenge, but recognising when enough is enough is critical.

The question is now that I have been squeezed dry, how do I replenish, ready to be squeezed all over again?

Any ideas?

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