If you are a family caregiver who is also working full-time, you are not alone.
It is estimated that one in five employees is a caregiver for a loved one, and approximately 41 million unpaid family caregivers provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care, $470 billion. Unfortunately, this situation has only worsened during the pandemic.
Holding down a full-time job while caring for aging parents or other older adults can seem impossible to manage, but somehow you do it anyway.
Balancing work with caregiving responsibilities is possible. However, it takes some creative and proactive approaches to maintain your well-being while preserving your work-life circumstances. We have some tips to help you not only juggle your full-time job but remain a dedicated family caregiver as well.
If you are the primary caregiver, most of the responsibility falls on you and it is easy to slip into a mindset that you are the only one who can manage the situation. Your siblings may need some assistance and direction on how best to support you as the primary caregiver.
Asking for their help is reasonable, and you will probably have the most success if you are specific about what you need.
For example, occasionally ask someone else to go to doctor’s appointments. And not only siblings can help- consider other family members like a grandson.
Talk with other family members about how caregiving affects your job performance and health care.
Be honest about caregiver burnout and the fact that you need some work-life balance. Schedule a family meeting and talk about the tasks that everyone can help with. Plan regular check-ins to see how things are going.
Although hiring private caregivers can be expensive, so is reducing your work hours or leaving your employment. If you have a financial advisor, meet with them to discuss the cost of in-home care and ways to pay for it while keeping long-term care needs in mind.
Adult daycare is another option where your loved one can go for several hours daily and receive meals, activities, and health-related services. The cost of adult day care is typically less than hiring private caregivers for the same amount of time.
Managing in-home care can be a challenge, but any help at all could take some of the burdens off of you. Consider using a combination of in-home care, family assistance, and a couple of days at an adult daycare.
Talk with the human resources department about your caregiving situation. There are several options to consider.
Federal law dictates that most employees can take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with job protection.
For the time you take off, family leave will likely be unpaid and time-limited. However, it could provide you with some breathing room to get other support services in place.
Also, ask about other possible solutions to your caregiving needs, such as:
Reassure your employer that whatever changes you agree to, they can count on you to continue performing at a high level.
Companies still have a long way to go in providing support to working caregivers, but changes are occurring, so talk with them about possible solutions. It is far more expensive for an employer to lose a valued employee than to work to keep a good one.
Consider independent, assisted, or memory care for your elderly parent, especially if they have Alzheimer’s disease. Compare the cost of senior living options, the toll it is taking on you, and the cost of in-home care.
At some point, if safety or home accessibility becomes too challenging to manage, then senior living is a reasonable alternative.
Your loved one may resist the idea of senior living so take a compassionate and patient approach. Offer to take a couple of tours of communities. Be honest about how caregiving affects your job and health without shaming your loved one into making a decision.
The stress of caregiving can affect your health and your job performance. Self-care is an ongoing effort to help keep your stress at a manageable level. Some suggestions:
There is no one size fits all solution to being a caregiver and working full-time.
Your unique circumstances will dictate what will work best. Keep in mind that although work and caregiving are responsibilities that you are committed to, your other relationships and your mental and physical health also have value.
A Certified Care Manager, Aging Life Care Professional, and Certified Master Guardian Emeritus. She is also the founder of Lambert Care Management, providing care management and consultation services to older and disabled adults. She has 20+ years of experience in geriatrics, with expertise in mental health, home health, and guardianship, as well as all aspects of care planning, including assessment, projected costs of care, client advocacy and education, caregiver coaching, and advance directives. She is also co-author with Leslie Eckford of Choose Your Place: Rethinking Home as You Age (2020), Aging with Care: Your Guide to Hiring and Managing Caregivers at Home (Rowman and Littlefield 2018).
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