Advice for the Working Caregiver

For most family caregivers their responsibilities run parallel to employment obligations. This can create extra stress on a working caregiver who is trying to earn enough money while feeling the pressure of needing to be there with their family.

In Canada, about 35 per cent of all working individuals (6.1 million) work full time in addition to their care duties. In the United States, that number rises to 60 per cent or 6 in 10.

These individuals are finding themselves having to adjust their work schedule to caregiving commitments. A report on family caregiving in Canada states that 558,000 full time workers leave the Canadian workforce each year due to caregiving responsibilities.

For those who stay in the workforce, about 10 per cent do not seek a promotion or have had to turn down a job offer because of their duties. In addition, 15 per cent indicate they have cut down on the hours of work they do each week.

Research has found that 44 per cent of working caregivers miss 8-9 days of work because of their caregiving duties. Employees juggling caregiving and full time work has been estimated to cost Canadian employers $5.5 billion each year in productivity.

In an effort to garner better productivity, there has also been a trend for employers to be flexible and accommodating with employees. This includes flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, job sharing or flextime, in addition to generous benefits packages or even a temporary leave of absence.

Yet, there are some important things that working caregivers can do to care for their health and well-being before they burn out.

These include:

  • Seek help. This is particularly important if you are feeling depressed or exhausted all the time.
  • Maintain your social connections. One of the areas that is easy to let slide is a social life. But it is these connections that can invigorate us and renew our spirits in tough times.
  • Eat well and get enough rest. Add some exercise or physical activity to your routine to help boost your energy level.
  • Talk to your manager or supervisor. By letting them know about your situation you may find there aret flexible work options like a compressed work week or telecommuting.

Some practical tips for surviving the day-to-day are:

  • Keep organized. Create and maintain a to-do list and a family calendar. Both of these can be shared with others who are involved in caregiving responsibilities.
  • Access local resources. there are often organizations and groups that can help find community resources for caregivers. It can include finding some in-home assistance or accessing social programs and financial support.

Conclusion

Trying to meet the pressures of a full-time job while pulling double duty as a caregiver for a member of your family can be stressful.  That is why it is important to talk to your supervisor or employer about your situation. There are also several things you can do to take care of yourself so you don’t get run down including eating well and getting proper sleep. Being prepared for the daily tasks and seeking help when you need it will also alleviate the pressure and help you enjoy both your job and your family.

Written by Chandra Lye

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