According to the AARP, there are more than 26 million family caregivers in the United States who are also employed outside the home. This represents a significant segment of the American workforce who struggle daily to manage the competing demands of career and family obligations.
In addition to the emotional toll of caregiving, there are a wide range of conflicting feelings many caregivers face at work, from stress about meeting deadlines to guilt about letting down coworkers to concern about taking time off to tend to the needs of their loved one. However, if you are one of these 26 million employed family caregivers, there are steps you can take to lessen your burdens, both at the office and on the home front.
Start by exploring what resources are available to you through your employer. Recognizing the need to respond to the growing population of family caregivers among their ranks, some employers have implemented forward-thinking programs designed to address the needs of caregivers while also maximizing productivity. From legal and financial assistance to respite care and paid leave, make sure you are taking full advantage of any caregiver benefits offered by your organization.
Also be sure to investigate what benefits might be available to you through the Family and Medical Leave Act, a federal law which offers protection for workers to help them address family caregiving obligations. Under the Act, eligible workers are allowed up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave without detriment to health benefits or job security. Coverage is based on the size of your company and the length of your employment, so talk to your human resources department to find out exactly how this legislation pertains to your situation.
Much of the stress involved in balancing caregiving and work responsibilities is tied to time management, so reevaluating your schedule is a key coping strategy. More and more companies today are willing to make exceptions to the traditional 40-hour, 9-to-5 work schedule to accommodate employee needs. Find out if your employer offers a flex-time policy, or lobby for one to be instituted. Ask whether you can earn compensatory time by volunteering to work an unpopular shift or on a holiday. Inquire if you can telecommute one or more days per week; some people find that they can be more productive working at home than in their office environment. Be sure to give some thought to job-sharing or working part time. If your finances allow, you might find that the improvement you experience in your quality of life will offset the disadvantages of reduced income.
Finally, consider hiring home care professionals, who can provide a significant and ongoing source of relief from your caregiving duties. As our area’s most trusted and experienced hospice and palliative care agency, it’s important to us that you, your loved one and your family have the physical, emotional and spiritual support you need.
The compassionate professionals of Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County can help to ease the challenges of caregiving by providing a wide range of services – from home care to medical equipment and supplies to respite care – for patients who qualify.
To learn more, please call the HPCIC office nearest you, or send a request online.
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