The Caregiving Balancing Act
- In the middle of a normal work day a phone call comes in for you . . . your aging father is having chest pains and needs to be taken to the ER immediately.
- You are scheduled to work until 6:00, but the only opening the doctor has to see your ailing mother is at 2:30.
- Needing to arrange home care for your parent, you need to make numerous phone calls during working hours.
- A friend you are looking after needs 24 hour care following an operation and you are their only option.
If any of these sound familiar, you are not alone. One out of every six employees in the U.S. provides care for a relative or friend who is aging or ill. And the number is growing as people live longer and rely on family to step in to fill caregiving gaps.1
Caregiving can run the gamut from a few hours each week, to 24 hour care. Most caregivers help with tasks like housekeeping and meal preparation, running errands and taking patients to appointments, assisting with bathing and dressing. In some cases the responsibilities can even include skilled medical services like giving injections or changing feeding tubes. With traditional healthcare not covering these expenses, and the limited ability of patients to pay out-of-pocket for these services, the responsibility falls to family and friends.
24% of caregivers say that caregiving affects their work performance, and a whopping 70% have some difficulty due to their dual roles. The difficulty can come in the form of emotional stress, fears about the security of their job, added financial costs and their worries about their own health.
Workers who double as caregivers often need some extra understanding and support. They may have more frequent absences or may need to make and receive phone calls during their shift. Emergencies can arise at any time and rarely when it is handy for the caregiver or for their co-workers. In addition, people stretched tight with providing care to others often neglect their own needs. Leading in turn to more unplanned medical emergencies. Without support the employee may drop out of the workforce completely.
It all comes down to being understanding and helpful to each other. Here are some tools:
- Some great suggestions for both caregivers and their employers can be found at org
- ReACT Coalition has a number of good resources to help caregivers
- Resolutions for Caregivers from the folks at AgingCare.com
- Financial assistance from Binc. If 50% of a bookseller’s weekly income is lost due to emergency caregiving duties, the bookseller is eligible to apply for assistance from the Binc Foundation. For more information contact Binc at 866-733-9064 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- According to a study by AARP and the Northeast Business Group on Health