The demands of working a full-time job, and for many people a second one, supporting a family and spending quality time with them, and doing things for yourself occasionally can be challenging at best.
What if you also have a loved one that needs consistent care?
Managing all of these needs is a tall order but with the right tips and available programs, you can reduce the stress while still caring for others.
First, let’s review the quandary: In the current state of the American health care system, family members are expected to provide primary care for a senior with chronic illnesses.
This unrealistic expectation causes all manner of issues for spouses, adult children, and other family members who still must be present and productive at their jobs and make time for their own families.
This isn’t easy to do. In fact, roughly 41 million Americans serve as caregivers for a loved one, and 6 in 10 of them are doing so while trying to earn a living.
Because of this, many working caregivers suffer from health problems, depression, and lost time and lower productivity at work. Lots of them also have to cut back on personal commitments and ultimately spend less time with their friends and other loved ones.
Coping tips for caregiving while working
Are you frequently distracted at work, emotionally sapped and physically exhausted?
There are steps you can take to strike a balance and find workplace solutions while building a caregiving support network.
At your place of employment, make a point to meet with your manager or human resources office to discuss helpful policies and resources such as these:
Flexible work options
Many employers are open to compressed workweeks or modified daily schedules based on need.
Job-sharing and telecommuting are also very helpful options for caregivers to explore.
Flex-time schedules can make all the difference as well and can be discussed on a case-by-case basis, even without a formal policy.
Counseling and support services
Check with your human resources department for availability of an Employee Assistance Program or other resource specifically for caregivers.
Among common choices are counseling on reducing stress and managing your time.
Your company may offer eldercare referrals through an online database or even with live consultants.
This greatly reduces the burden of slogging through distracting and time-consuming research just to find services such as medical support, transportation, and meal delivery.
Employers that have not yet implemented policies or practices for employees who are also caregivers may be open to doing so.
AARP and other resources have developed tools to help employers support working caregivers. Discuss the details with your manager to arrange a viable plan.
Using paid time off for caregiving
Depending on your employer’s policies and applicable state laws, you may be allowed or even required to use accrued paid sick days or vacation leave toward time taken off for caregiving.
In fact, as of October 2019, several U.S. states and Puerto Rico adopted the Eligible Leave for Employee Caregiving Time (ELECT) Act, an AARP-inspired bill allowing workers to use paid sick leave to care for family members. The Family and Medical Leave Act also offers unpaid leave.
Unfortunately, many caregivers manage all of this on their own, but this only leads to frustration and a host of other negative outcomes.
Regardless of your situation, seek out as much help as possible; don’t try to endure the challenge alone. Let friends and family know that you need assistance, talk to your supervisor about caregiving, and research outside help until you find a usable and affordable solution.
Imagine what even a few hours of respite each week would mean for your life.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.