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How Employers can Help us Balance Work and Caregiving

When addressing the issues of caregiving, employee employer relationship is generally the most common. Family caregivers are all around us, but they are often hidden. At least 44 million people are unpaid caregivers in the US.

Double Responsibilities At Work

Three quarters of these family caregivers have jobs but struggle to balance work and caregiving responsibilities. Caregivers help family members with bathing, dressing, medications, doctors’ appointments and more.

Being a dedicated employee and a supporting caregiver is a double responsibility. Some suffer from depression, anxiety and not being able to enjoy life. Bearing this double responsibility can decrease your employee’s productivity by 18.5%. Chances are higher that your employee will feel it is necessary to quit.

Often, out of necessity to care for a loved one, your employee will miss work. This results in lost work hours valued at $25.2 billion.

This situation will not resolve itself. Meanwhile, the population of seniors who need care continues to grow.

Employers, Care for Your Caregivers

Corporations can learn more about the reality of caregiving. Employers can help their employees achieve balance between work and caregiving. Taking care of the caregivers is good for companies!

Employer support helps employees stay focused and productive. The employee can fulfill their responsibilities on the job and at home.

Tips for Preventing Caregiving Stress on the Job

1. Educate and Train Supervisors and Managers

Employers can educate and train supervisors and managers on how caregiving impacts employees. 56% of caregivers say their supervisor does not know about their responsibilities at home. That is 22 million employees who are struggling to balance work and caregiving, and their boss doesn’t know.

2. Flexible Schedules

The key to helping these employees is workplace flexibility. Doctors appointments, sickness and falls don’t stick to “business hours.”

Allow employees to use flex-time, reduce hours, or work from home. Employees can meet company deadlines and responsibilities on a flexible schedule.

3. Referrals to Community Resources

Employers can help employees by providing referrals to community professionals, such as:

  • A geriatric care manager —  to help your employee figure out ways to balance work and caregiving. This professional can show your employee how to access resources and create a care plan. This care plan meets the needs of the employer, your employee and the person receiving care.
  • A nurse advisor— to give your employee health information and answer questions about the health conditions that the person receiving care may have.
  • A mental health counselor —  can assist the employee with discussing the emotional upset and stress that can be part of the role of a family caregiver. A mental health counselor can also assist in providing advice on home care services or senior living communities.
  • The local agency on aging — for support groups, adult day care center, transportation options and unique local nonprofits.

Employers can help employees find and giving the employee the flexibility they need to access these resources.

Tips for Employees to Balance Work and Caregiving

Balancing work and caregiving is a challenge that does not go away. Today, you may feel you have a handle on this balance. Tomorrow, you may feel overwhelmed again.

Here are 6 ways to balance work and caregiving:

1. Talk About Your Home Responsibilities

Talk to the people around you about your responsibilities at home, especially your employer. You can help others support you by telling them what you need. To you, the needs may be obvious, but others may not be aware of your stress and needs.

2. Consider Taking Paid Leave

Your employer may offer paid leave to care for dependents or family members. Familiarize yourself with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. 4

3. Make Time for Self Care

Even if you must start with 5 minutes a day, make time for self-care. Yes, this is easier said than done! But if you aren’t healthy than you can’t do your job or take care of your loved one.

4. Use Your Workplace Skills at Home

Use your organization skills in both the workplace and at home. Create a calendar for your workplace responsibilities and deadlines. But also have a family calendar to keep track of appointments.

5. Make an Emergency Plan

Talk with your co-workers and employer about what you will do if you need to leave work for an emergency. Then find somebody who is close to home, a friend or neighbor who can help until you can get home.

6. Use Your Network of Support

Ask friends and family members to lend a hand and help with the caregiving tasks. Ask human resources about “Employee Assistance Programs.” Speak with a geriatric care manager about services that are available in your town or county. They may recommend respite care, in-home care, support groups and even “social” caregiver events.

Your dual role at work and at home will be a heavy burden but you can find support.

Employees can Prevent Caregiver Stress On The Job

Demanding circumstances cause mental or emotional strain or tension. This is the definition of stress.

That’s also the definition of a day in the life of an employee caregiver!

You can’t prevent all stress. You can take steps early on before the stress reaches a breaking point. Here are some tips:

Support Your Body with Food and Movement

Make sure that you are providing fuel for your own tank. Try to eat as many healthy meals as you can. Take time for 20-30 minutes of physical activity in your day. If you don’t have time for this all at once, try to add 5-minute exercise breaks into your day. On your lunch hour take a brisk walk around the building. When you get home, put on some music while you make supper and boogey a little to the tunes.

Know That Your Feelings are Normal

Take time to understand and express your feelings. Caregivers are often crushed by the wide range of emotions. From love and empathy to frustration and anger at any given time. Worry, anxiety, guilt and isolation are also common emotions.

Get Emotional Support

Connect with others who can understand the feelings you are experiencing. You can even connect online in caregiver groups and forums. There, you can exchange ideas and get support at all hours of the day.

Employers have a role in preventing caregiver stress.

Caregiving is both rewarding and challenging. Many caregivers will find themselves unprepared for this role.

Employers can help by learning about the caregiver’s responsibilities and providing support. Employers can continue to receive valuable contributions from their employee, increase productivity and reduce turnover. By reducing caregiver stress, employers improve the lives of three parties — employer, employee and their loved family member.

For more information on caregiving contact Home Care Assistance, today!

Resources:

  1. From Making Sandwiches to Being Sandwiched (Center for Disease Control)
  2. Caregiver Statistics: Work and Caregiving (Caregiver.org)
  3. What Is a Geriatric Care Manager? (National Institute of Health)
  4. FMLA: Family & Medical Leave (Department of Labor)
  5. Taking Care of Yourself: Tips for Caregivers (The Longevity Network)
  6. The Ultimate Guide to Caregiver Self-Care (The Longevity Network)
  7. Maria Shriver Shares Advice on Managing Caregivers at Work (Forbes) 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Crystal Jo is a Registered Nurse who is passionate about helping older adults live happy, healthy lives at home. As a freelance writer, she enjoys educating and inspiring seniors, and those who love them, to choose a healthy life.