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Balancing Work and Caregiving

As many of the caregivers profiled in Your Turn To Care know, holding down a job while caring for an elderly loved one can feel like trying to juggle meat cleavers. The time-consuming tasks of caregiving can make it very difficult to fulfill your responsibilities at work. You're not alone. More than 7 million Americans who work full-time are also providing intensive caretaking for a loved one.

According to a study conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the estimated total of lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits for these caregivers is nearly $3 trillion.

Caregiving responsibilities may have a dramatic economic impact on both men and women through lost wages due to either reduced hours worked or leaving the labor force early and diminished Social Security benefits or private pensions.

  • One-third of caregivers leave the workforce or reduce their hours at work due to caregiving responsibilities.
  • At least 6 out of 10 caregivers have reported they had made some work-related adjustments as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.
  • An estimated 9% of the caregivers who were employed left the workplace as a result of their caregiving responsibilities; 3% took early retirement and 6% left work entirely.
  • An additional 10% of the employed caregivers reduced their hours from fulltime to part-time.


DEALING WITH YOUR EMPLOYER:

  • Be open and honest with your employer about your situation.
  • Let your company know you remain committed to your job and you need your benefits and salary.
  • Be prepared with realistic suggestions such as flex hours or work sharing that will allow you to fulfill your responsibilities as both an employee and a caregiver.
  • Your company may offer benefits such as an Employee Assistance program. Check with the Human Resources Department.


The MetLife study suggests "employers can help caregivers by providing workplace accommodations -- such as flex-time or family medical leave (FMLA) -- so that caregivers can continue to stay in the workforce while caring for a relative. Employers can encourage workers to use free resources, such as the Eldercare Locator online or by toll-free phone (1-800-677-1116) to find services that can help with caregiving."

Working while caregiving can present some challenging issues beyond what an employer can accommodate. Here are a few suggestions that can help to balance the work life and home life of a caregiver.


HELPING YOURSELF:

  • Limit phone calls from your loved one to emergencies only while you are at work.
  • You don't have to do everything yourself -- accept help from other family members and friends.
  • Deliberately partition your days into Work Time, Caregiving Time and Play Time.

WEBSITES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

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Funders
MetLife Foundation The Lippey Family Trust Gladyce L. Foster
California Community Foundation