Boomer’s Balancing Act: Juggling Careers and Caregiving
Individuals who are part of the “sandwich generation” are juggling the responsibilities of working, caring for their children, and providing home care for their aging parents, thus causing them to bite off more than they can chew. The United States includes an estimated 34 million unpaid family caregivers for adults, typically older relatives, according to a study released by AARP.
Family members frequently face challenges in the workplace while caring for a loved one at home. Often times they are forced to make the difficult choice between work and family: “Do I go to my 3 o’clock meeting or take my mother to the doctor?” Managing both responsibilities can often increase stress while decreasing productivity in one or both of these tasks.
According to national studies by MetLife Insurance and the National Alliance for Caregiving, nearly 65 percent of family members who worked while caring for an aging parent experienced conflict with their jobs, including tardiness, lost hours or income, and the sacrificing of vacation. The following are other effects caregiving can have on employee relations in the workplace:
PROBLEMS EMPLOYED FAMILY CAREGIVERS FACE:
* Career Stands Still
Home caregiving responsibilities can mean missing out on promotions and training at work, opportunities for job transfers or relocations, and acquiring and keeping up with necessary job skills.
* Loss in Wages
Income can drastically be cut as a result of caregiving obligations. In the national MetLife and AARP study, nearly two-thirds of respondents said that caregiving had a direct impact on their earnings. As a result of caregiving, the average loss in aggregate lost wages, Social Security and lost pension benefits reported was $659,139 over a lifetime.
* Reductions in Savings and Spending
Providing home care for a loved one can cause significant limitations to personal savings and spending, home improvements, vacations and/or investments.
* Toll on Health
Caregiving responsibilities can often take a toll on the health of a family caregiver leading to increases in absenteeism in the workplace, early retirement and job turnover. This can lead to a loss in employee productivity and overall workplace morale.
* Economic Loss for Employers
Employers also lose money due to employees’ caregiving responsibilities. A previous MetLife study estimated that absenteeism, partial absenteeism, workday interruptions, eldercare crises and costs associated with supervising employed caregivers conservatively averages $11.4 billion per year.
TIPS FOR BALANCING WORK WITH HOME CARE:
* Find out if the employer must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. If so, an employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off annually to care for a parent with a serious health condition.
* Long-distance caregivers shoulder an even greater burden of caring for an aging parent while meeting job demands. Employees should find out if they can work remotely for greater flexibility. For instance, an employee may be able to work from the home of the relative for whom they are caring.
* Employee Assistance Programs, such as WorkPlace Options, are an example of a growing trend in employer-subsidized caregiving programs that employers and employees around the country are embracing. This program enables employees to continue working when they experience a temporary breakdown in their elder care arrangements. WorkPlace Options offers a comprehensive, fully integrated Backup Care Program that features a network of thousands of individually contracted home care agencies, including Right at Home, to provide Backup Caregivers in case of an emergency.
* Hiring a national home care and assistance agency, such as Right at Home, is another solution for many families. Right at Home provides in-home non-medical care, often at a fraction of the cost of moving into an assisted living facility or nursing home. Services offered included companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, grocery and errand services, incidental transportation, personal care assistance, and more. Best of all, Right at Home is available 24/7, catering to an employee’s varied work schedules. All Right at Home caregivers are fully screened through professional references, rigorous criminal background checks and are fully insured and bonded.
For more information on support for the family caregiver, and options for receiving home care services, check out the following resources:
The Free 2007 Adult Caregiving Show Me Guide by Right at Home and Secure Horizons
Download a free version of the Show Me Guide on this page from Right at Home
Family Caregiver Alliance
National Family Caregivers Association
Source: Right at Home Managing Director, www.RAHcares.com 503-574-3674
For more information: www.RAHcares.com, 503-574-3674
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