Balancing a Career and Caregiving for an Elderly Loved One
Balancing a Career and Caregiving for an Elderly Loved One
Experts estimate that sixty percent of caregivers for adults aged 50 and older also have a full-time or part-time job. Approximately half of the adult workforce should expect to provide care for an elderly family member in the next five years.
What is a caregiver? A caregiver is an unpaid or paid member of a person's social network who helps them with activities of daily living, such as assistance with dressing, bathing, toileting and managing medications. Other duties of a caregiver might include talking to doctors and nurses on someone's behalf; coordinating doctor appointments; or taking care of household chores, meals, transportation, or bills for someone who cannot do these things alone.
Consider these ideas, which may help you as a caregiver while balancing your career:
1. Take care of yourself
Friends and family are an excellent source for meaningful support. Many times, people are eager to assist but are waiting for you to ask, so don't be afraid to reach out to others for help.
Respite Care can provide a needed break and allow you to reenergize while maintaining support and care for your loved one.
Respite programs provide planned, short-term and time-limited breaks. This allows families and caregivers to take a break while having peace of mind knowing that your loved one is being taken care of in your absence.
Respite programs are offered through senior living communities, nursing facilities as well as home care companies. Both the LMK Foundation and Cobb County's Share-the-Care program, which both offer financial assistance towards respite services.
Be sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle and practice stress relief techniques. This includes eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, addressing your emotions, meditating, and most importantly, taking care of your health.
2. Review benefits offered by your employer
Many companies offer additional benefits and programs for their employees. Below are some of the programs which may be provided by your employer.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
EAP programs are offered through the Human Resources department. The EAP program provides information and referral services to employees for things such as legal services, personal and family counseling, crisis intervention, bereavement and other assistance. These services help employees better balance work and caregiving responsibilities.
In addition, the program may offer basic elder care benefits-mainly referrals to help find caregivers, senior housing, adult day care, caregiver support groups, and referrals to Eldercare Locator services.
Eldercare Locator services are typically free and assist with the assessment, and customized selection of senior living options, based on your loved one's care needs, budget and desired geographical location. Visit eldercare.acl.gov for more information.
Paid time off (PTO) and Family leave programs
A PTO program replaces programs that are distinctly designated for vacation and sick time with a single block of "personal days" that employee's control. Such programs give employees the flexibility to take time off when they need it for whatever purpose, including caregiving. There may be additional benefits such as company policies for caregivers and family leave.
Flexible schedules and telecommuting
Some companies offer the flexibility for employees to start or end their workday earlier or later or conduct work at home, which can provide a great deal of relief for caregivers.
3. Educate yourself on local community resources
Community resources can often guide you to local support groups, respite care, financial support, meals on wheels, care management as well as transportation services that can help you now or in the future. Below are several organizations that are very resourceful for caregivers with an aging loved one.
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)
When you connect with your local AAA (n4a.org. ), they can provide resources on services for older citizens and persons with disabilities and their families. These resources can vary greatly, including information and referral services for housing options and in-home services, case management, transportation, home-delivered meals, senior centers, legal services and more through this network of care. They also offer counseling, intake, and screening for the Medicaid waiver programs.
The Alzheimer’s Association works on a global, national and local level to provide care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
They offer a 24/7 Helpline. (1-800-272-3900) The helpline offers information and advice to more than 300,000 callers each year and provides translation services in more than 200 languages. They also offer support groups and educational sessions.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people to choose how they live as they age. AARP is an excellent resource for caregivers. Their website offers informative articles, guides, and tips for caregiving.
4. Financial resources
Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Pension
Is your loved one a Veteran or a surviving spouse of a Veteran? If so, you should look into the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Pension program to see if your loved one is eligible for this program, as it could increase their income significantly and help supplement the cost of care. Visit the Veteran's Benefit Guide for more information.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Does your loved one have long-term care insurance? If your loved one has long-term care insurance, review the policy to see what it covers. Does it cover home care, assisted living or nursing care? What does the policy pay out per day and/or length of the policy?
Could your loved one qualify for Medicaid? Medicaid offers several programs. For example, in Georgia, there is “long-term care” Medicaid, which covers the cost of a nursing home, should you qualify. In addition, Medicaid offers “waiver programs” referred to as Source and CCSP to assist with the cost of care services at home or cost to live in a personal care home. For more information visit: dch.georgia.gov/Medicaid
Caring for an aging loved one while balancing work and life responsibilities can be overwhelming and stressful. However, by utilizing the tips and resources mentioned above, you can find some relief as well as assistance. Remember that caring for yourself first will allow you to be a better caregiver for your loved one.
Written by: Stephanie Fiber-Sutton, CEO
Senior Advisory Services