The working caregiver has two jobs: one that provides a paycheck, and a second job of caring for someone they love. Separately, each can be both demanding and rewarding. Together, these two jobs create a very challenging and difficult situation.
This is not an uncommon plight. More than half of the 40.4 million unpaid caregivers in the United States are employed part-time, full-time or work two paying jobs.
Working caregivers struggle to find balance between their loved ones, their work and themselves. We find ourselves in a conflict between our job responsibilities and our caregiving responsibilities.
Aside from the physical and mental tolls of caring for an older loved one, caregivers must also be aware of the significant career and significant financial consequences of caregiving. Caregiving duties can lead to increased absenteeism, lower productivity and an interruption in workflow. This in turn can lead to poor performance reviews, lost career opportunities and/or lost income.
As the demands of caregiving increase, many caregivers modify their work schedules or even leave the workplace entirely. Reducing or giving up a paycheck can affect future Social Security benefits and have severe negative consequences on retirement. In addition, you lose out on employment-related benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.
If you do leave the workforce and want to re-enter later, it might be more difficult to find a job, especially if there is a significant time gap in your employment and resume. Keeping your skills, certifications and licenses up to date will help make it easier to re-enter the workforce.
If you are considering leaving your workplace to care for an older loved one, make sure you have looked at all of the options available to you, both within your company and across your community. Talk with your supervisor and your co-workers. Keep the lines of communication open, letting them know what is going on before any situation becomes a crisis. Emphasize your intention to work and your commitment to your job. Speak with your supervisor to see if a flexible work arrangement is a viable option. Flexible work arrangements can come in many forms – remote work, adjusted hours or a compressed work week.
Caregiving is not black and white. Finding the balance that works for you, your loved one and your career can be difficult, but not impossible. UK Elder Care can help you find that balance.