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Choosing Caregiving or Career

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Choosing Caregiving or CareerMore than seven million Americans are balancing the demands of a full-time job along with caregiving to a family member, typically an older parent.  For many, they daily choose between work and family as they try to juggle each job’s demands, and what usually has to give it their free time, their time with their own kids or this time with their spouses. 

But sometimes even that is not enough to fit everything into the 24 hours of a day, and the working caregiving confronts the tough decision of one job or the other.  According to the MetLife Mature Market Institute:

  • Almost two-thirds of working caregivers have to make some sort of real adjustment in the demands of their job or their career plans to accommodate their caregiving.
  • One out of every three workers will cut back on their hours to make room for caregiving duties like trips to the doctor or actual hands on care for an incapacitated loved one.
  • One out of ten have moved from full-time to part-time employment in order to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities.
  • One in twenty opted to leave the workforce entirely and nearly as many left their jobs by retiring earlier than they otherwise would have.

If you are one of these workers juggling two responsibilities, here are some tips:

  1. Set clear boundaries with your loved one so that calls to work are only in case of emergencies.
  2. Divide your day into “work hours,” “caregiving hours” and also time for yourself – “my hours.”
  3. Get some help from outside agencies for the tasks that do not require you to be hands on.

If you are looking to downsize your workload or quit your job, you should:

  1. Do your homework by reading the employee manual or talking with human resources about their guidelines or employee assistance programs to accommodate caregiving.
  2. Know your rights under law by reading the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/
  3. Prepare for your conversation for the meeting with your manager before you meet with your ideas for reduced time, flex time, job sharing or other solutions and above all, be honest and open.
  4. Recognize that if you love your job that this will be a tough move, and let your employer know how committed you are to your job and the company and that your really do plan to return to the workforce.

For more information on what the MetLife Mature Market Institute can tell you about caregiving in America, go to their web site: https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/index.html?WT.ac=GN_mmi_research

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Please email your questions to ccbishop@creativecasemanagement.com Visit our For The Caregiver page for more information and resources..

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