Top Ways to Maintain a Caregiver-Work-Life Balance

Top Ways to Maintain a Caregiver-Work-Life Balance


Many Americans nowadays are serving as caregivers on top of trying to maintain a work-life balance. If you find yourself in this position, you are not alone. Over 60% of American caregivers are working at least one job while also providing care for their aging loved one. Those numbers recently rose due to the COVID-19 pandemic. America is also approaching a caregiving cliff; the number of people who require care will soon outnumber the people with the ability to provide it.

Caregiving can be stressful even if you have most of your day to devote to your loved one. Yet, when you try to juggle a day job with caring for your parent, grandparent, or spouse, your stress levels can skyrocket and negatively impact your mental health. According to a report from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, “36% of familial caregivers describe their caregiving situation as “highly stressful.”

Alert1 understands how difficult the caregiver-work-life balance can be. Below you will find advice to help you take care of yourself while taking care of your loved one. This includes tips on identifying caregiver burnout, information about workplace benefits, and strategies to balance caregiving with your work and outside life.

Identifying Caregiver Burnout

 The emotional stress and physical demands of caretaking can easily drain a person, especially when working another job to make ends meet. Learn how to identify caregiver burnout and what causes it. 

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

If you are exhibiting any of the following signs, you might be experiencing caregiver burnout or stress:

  • Emotional responses like anxiety, depression, denial, or anger
  • Sleeplessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Increased health problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Short attention span (difficulty performing daily tasks)

Another way to determine whether a caregiver might need extra support is a self-assessment from the American Medical Association. The American Psychological Association recommends the “How Are You?” caregiver assessment to assess burnout.

·         Online Version -

·         Paper PDF Questionnaire - caregiverselfassessment_english.pdf (

What Causes Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout can have numerous causes, often in conjunction with one another. Here are some of the most common.

  • Lack of money or skills needed to care for a loved one
  • Lack of privacy when living with an aging loved one
  • Managing a care plan clarity between other family members, employers, the loved one, and other caregivers
  • Not being able to keep up with the demands of other family members or the loved one
  • Expecting breakthroughs when working with a loved one who has Parkinson's or Alzheimer's
  • Not being able to separate your new caregiver role from whatever relationship you already had with the loved one

Understanding Workplace Benefits for Caregivers

 If you are experiencing caregiver burnout, your workplace might be able to provide some support. Some workplaces provide benefits for employees who are also at-home caregivers. Talk to your employer to find out if you have extra professional support that can help prevent caregiver burnout. Some common benefits include:  

  • Counseling and support services - The human resources department might have an Employee Assistance Program for caregivers that offers counseling for stress and time management. 
  • Paid time off to provide care - Your workplace policies might allow you to use accrued vacation or sick leave for caregiving. 
  • Flexible work options - You could rearrange your workweek or modify your daily schedule to accommodate caregiving duties. 

  • Elder care referrals - Your employer might have resources to find eldercare, like meal delivery or health care support. 

  • Meeting with your employer to share resources - Even if your workplace does not offer these benefits, you could meet with your employer to explore this caregiver workplace tool kit from Northeast Business Group and AARP. 

Remember that the benefits listed above do not extend to every workplace. However, if your employer offers benefits like paid time off for caregiving or flexible work options, do not hesitate to use them. Those benefits can help you maintain your caregiving-work-life balance. 

Understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act

 The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) makes it possible for caregivers to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks per year in order to provide care for a loved one. Those 12 weeks do not have to be consecutive. The FMLA allows you to take leave without loss of health benefits or job security. You are covered to care for a parent, spouse, or child with serious health complications, but this coverage does not extend to in-laws. 

·         FMLA Eligibility - The FMLA covers those who work in the public sector, or an organization or company that employs at least 50 people who work within 75 miles of the work site. You need to have worked 1,250 hours (about 24 hours a week) within the last year for that employer. You can also check your eligibility in the Family and Medical Leave Act Employee Guide provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

·         Requesting FMLA Leave - Communicate with your employer as soon as you can about possible FMLA leave. If you know you will be caregiving at a certain time, like after a surgery, you must give 30 days’ notice. 

·         The FMLA Process - If you qualify, your employer will describe your FMLA rights and provide leave. It is possible that you will need to present certification paperwork from a health care provider that proves your loved one has a condition that requires care. Your employer is not allowed to threaten you or create trouble for you in the workplace because you requested FMLA coverage. 

·         State Caregiving Laws - All caregiving laws apply to your professional situation. Your employer is required to comply with both state caregiving laws and FMLA when applicable. In 2019, AARP reported that four states use family-leave insurance programs to offer paid time off for caregivers. Between 2020 and 2023, another five states and the District of Columbia will institute similar legislation. Check your state’s laws when making your FMLA request to see if you qualify for extra support. 

Maintaining a Caregiver-Work-Life Balance

 The following strategies can help you prevent and manage caregiver burnout.

Use your tools - Caregiving tools can help you manage stress. A medical alert system can provide peace-of-mind and keep your loved one safe while you’re at work. Additionally, communication websites help keep loved ones updated on the person receiving care without making individual emails or calls.  

Build a caregiving community - Take part in a caregiver support group. You can typically find these groups through hospitals, churches, or social media searches. If you are employed, reach out to people at work who might also be caregivers. Finding support groups in your community can prevent burnout. 

Maintain strong social relationships -Carve out time to spend with other family members, friends, or loved ones. These relationships can provide insight into, support on, and reprieve from your caregiving duties. Caregiver isolation is common among caregivers of all kinds, and the effects can be devastating. Nurturing your own social relationships can become increasingly difficult while caregiving and working, but it will help keep you in better mental health.

Prioritize your health as much as possible - Your health is intrinsically important, but as a caregiver you also have a responsibility to someone else's health. It can be easy to focus on someone else’s needs and forget to take care of yourself. Be sure to eat nourishing foods, hydrate, get proper sleep, and exercise regularly. You won’t be able to take care of your loved one if your health is not in good balance.

Take a break - Ask other loved ones to take over your care shift so that you can do something indulgent for yourself. Even if it is just a walk around the block or some time alone, you need this time to yourself. If you need a longer break, consider seeking outside help, like an adult day care program.

Why Addressing Caregiver Burnout is Important

Caregiver burnout and stress can have real effects on caregivers’ health. The American Psychological Association determined that people who are between the ages of 55 and 75 who are also caregivers experience a 23% higher level of stress hormones than those in the same demographic who are not caregivers. [i] Increased stress hormones can increase blood pressure and decrease immune response. 

When you are stressed, it reduces your immune system’s ability to take care of your body. It is imperative that caregivers maintain a healthy lifestyle balance in order to preserve their own health and happiness so they can take better care of their loved one. 

Alert1 Medical Alert Systems Help Manage Caregiver Burnout

 Alert1 understands that caregiving can feel isolating and stressful. You can relieve caregiving stress and prevent caregiver burnout by creating a solid support system. That support system might include work benefits, a caregiving community, or any strategy that can make your day-to-day life easier. A medical alert system is a great complementary tool to watch out for your loved one when you are not around.

A medical alert system gives you and your family peace of mind. Take a break from your caregiving duties with the knowledge that your loved one has direct access to a 24/7 Command Center if they fall. Be sure to check out our automatic fall detection technology as well. This system automatically calls our Command Center and alerts emergency contacts when it senses a fall. There is no need to press a button.

Alert1 is Here for You and Your Loved One

 Alert1 offers several medical alert systems that can support your caregiving efforts. Each option caters to the lifestyle that you and your loved one lead. The In-Home medical alert system is perfect for around-the-house use. If you and your loved one spend time out of the house, either together or separately, the On-The-Go options can accommodate your needs. The In-Home + On-The-Go + Fall Detection medical alert system covers all the bases. Alert1 can help you feel a bit more at ease when your loved one is at home, meeting for game night, or is unable to press the button themselves. 

With our flexible payments plans, you are not locked into a contract here at Alert1. When your caregiving plans shift, our medical alert system plans can adjust with you. Caregiver burnout is real, and it will affect more and more caregivers as the need for elder care grows. Alert1 supports caregivers and believes a caregiver-work-life balance is attainable with the right tools. 

[1] Vitaliano, P.P., Zhang, J., & Scanlan, J.M. (2003). Is Caregiving Hazardous to One’s Physical HEALTH? A Meta-Analysis. Phycological Bulletin, 129(6), 946-972. Is Caregiving Hazardous to One’s Physical HEALTH? A Meta-Analysis (