You are not alone.
- Approximately 40 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult during the last year.
- Caregivers average 24.4 hours a week providing care to their loved one. 23% spend 41 hours or more providing care.
- 40% of caregivers report a high “burden of care”. Burden of care describes the physical, emotional, social, mental and financial problems of caregivers.
- 60% of caregivers have a job.
- 70% of working caregivers suffer problems at work because of their dual roles.
- 69% of working caregivers report they had to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours, or take an unpaid leave to meet their caregiving responsibilities
Keeping and succeeding at your job while caregiving for your parents and, in many cases, spouse and children is a difficult task.
The number of adults taking care of their parents will only increase as baby boomers age. And although businesses are more aware of caregiver issues, the business community hasn’t made any great strides in providing options.
There are alternatives for caregivers who want to keep their jobs and ensure their parents are healthy and safe.
7 Options to Keep Your Job While Caregiving
- Family Medical Leave Act offers 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
- Flexible work schedules. Some workplaces offer flexible work schedules for anyone who requests.
- Telework permits employees to work remotely.
- Part-time work gives you the opportunity of reducing your hours while keeping your job or moving to a workplace that is more accommodating.
- Contract jobs are available that only require you to complete the task within a certain time period.
- Job-sharing may reduce your burden if your employer agrees.
- Change your work hours. If shift work is available and your parents mostly need help during the day, a third-shift job may be the best compromise.
Perhaps, though, you need to look at the problem in another way. Explore alternatives that will keep your parents healthy and happy so you don’t have to spend as much time.
Keep Your Job by Ensuring Your Parents’ Health and Wellbeing
For example, you can hire home health care workers to come in during the day to help your parents. This can be expensive if your parents require more than a watchful eye. For example, help with activities of daily living (ADL) or medical care can sometimes be costly. The average cost of in-home homemaker services is $19 an hour. Home health aides average $21 an hour, and nursing care is much more expensive.
Adult day care is provided by many senior centers nationwide. Seniors can spend 2 or 3 hours playing cards or games and socializing at your local senior center. In some regions, buses will pick up older adults at their homes, transport them, then return them home.
However, if your parents have medical conditions that require monitoring or medication, prices average $67 per day nationwide.
A caring person checks in on your parent and delivers a nutritious meal once a day if your parents qualify for Meals on Wheels.
Some states offer special programs for low-income seniors with Alzheimer’s, such as MassHealth’s Home Care Program.
Assisted Living Takes the Burden off You
Assisted living communities are becoming more popular nationwide. They offer residents the independence of being able to make their own decisions and help with ADLs. For example, they will remind your parents to take their medication, help them shower and get dressed and even help them with eating. Assisted living apartments are your parents’ homes: They can lock them, and no one may enter without permission.
This takes much of the burden off of caregivers. However, assisted living is not cheap.
Costs average $3,293 per month, but fees vary widely. Part of the cost, however, may be deducted as a medical expense. In addition, assisted living communities provide numerous resources to help families afford their services.
For example, The Arbors Assisted Living Communities in Massachusetts participate in Medicaid/MassHealth and federal programs to reduce costs to families. We also offer help getting veterans benefits of up to $2,000 per month to defray the cost.
Studies indicate that most seniors experience a good quality of life in assisted living communities. One survey reports that most of the seniors were “satisfied with the comfort and privacy of their rooms, the cleanliness of the home, and the personal care services provided.”
Caregiver organizations, such as Family Caregiver Alliance, are making the business community aware of the challenges faced by caregivers. They advocate practices such as workplace flexibility, education and training of supervisors, and offering eldercare support services.
The marketplace is becoming more friendly to caregivers. Hang in there!