The pressure to choose
a common feeling
Managing care for your loved one may seem like an isolating experience, but let us assure you, many Americans are in your very shoes. And one all too common experience is determining how to manage your career while adding in this new layer of care-taking responsibility. Here, at Beverly’s Daughter, we have a few quick tips designed to support your career while you care for your loved one.
According to a recent AARP study, an estimated 42% of working Americans have provided care for an aging adult in the last 5 years, many nearly spending as much as 20 hours a week in this unpaid role. And while we naturally want to jump in and care for our loved one, there is an often-unspoken fear that it can jeopardize our personal career. These tensions are common and valid, so let us unpack what resources you may have at your disposal.
Although this can be a personal matter to you, consider having a conversation with your employer. Depending on your industry, you may be able to advocate for flex time schedules or remote work options for a season as you care for your loved one. Moreover, legally you may have resources through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Many companies under this act will grant you 12 weeks away from your job without risk of losing it or your position. Be sure to review your employee handbook as well, as your company may have benefits for caregivers already outlined that apply to you. Your role as a care-giver to your loved one is legally protected the same as any other familial medical role, and your company should have policies and procedures that align.
In many municipal areas, there are both private and public resources available to you as you juggle care and career. First, explore what free options you have at your disposal through local community networks. Every major government city or municipality will have their own department centered around healthy aging and care. Those departments will often point you to a larger network platform of resources where you can search for assistance in a variety of topics and locations. Some of these resources will be public and therefore free to you and your loved one (like many transportation services) and some will be private and therefore have an associated cost. For those paid services, it is encouraged to do your own cost-benefit financial analysis—even if a service has a fee it could be less than money lost if you need to take the day off of work. So, do not fear running the numbers and assessing when it might be in your financial best interest to use private services for some tasks. Focus first on your tasks that cost you time but have less impact on your loved one if you are not present (ex. grocery delivery services to your mother’s home that can be managed from your office).
There can be a distorted reality that your commitment to your caretaker role somehow “takes away” from your chosen employment or position, but this simply is not true. In fact, it is the opposite. The skills you have gained becoming a support person for your loved one has only made you a stronger employee anywhere, so learn and leverage these new skills. Highlight that you are now an amazing multi-tasker, that you have learned how to not take no for a first answer, that you know how to make the most happen in the shortest amount of time. Instead of viewing this season in your life as a “pause” on your career pursuits, instead consider it as additional experience and skills you are offering to your employer and be confident in expressing your newfound gifting.
Best of both worlds
It can be an impossible decision to decide between tending to your loved one and your career, and we believe that no one should be put in this position. We at Beverly’s Daughter are ready to connect to support you as you advocate for both your loved one and your own professional pursuits.
Older Adults and navigating a role reversal
A newfound season of care-taking can be undoubtedly intimidating both to you and your loved one, especially when balancing your employment. However, there are creative solutions, support networks, and resources available to help your loved one and your career thrive. Connect with us for more information.
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