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The Balancing Act of Caregiving and Career

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As our society ages and lives longer, the need for caregivers continues to climb. Most often this role falls onto the shoulders of women, or daughters. And, many times when you’re called to start your caregiving journey, you’re in the prime of your career juggling increased work responsibilities, career growth and professional development.

Caregiving and working can become even more of a complex juggling act when you’re part of the “Sandwich Generation,” adults who are raising children 17 and under while also caring for an aging loved one.

A Home Instead® public education program, “Daughters in the Workplace” takes a deep dive into the working family caregiver and includes numerous free resources and tools to help caregivers feel empowered to talk to their employers about their needs, while also identifying available caregiving support. The following are the key findings with actionable tips to help you more easily navigate the challenging and rewarding role of caregiving.

Current State of Daughters in the Workplace

Think about some of your friends or co-workers who aren’t caring for an elderly relative. Would you say you seem more stressed than them? Two-thirds of all caregivers are female and regardless of gender, all working caregivers report higher levels of stress than the overall population. This stress could come out of sacrifice. Many surveyed have left jobs, gone back to work to support relatives or turned down career growth opportunities to provide care.

Asked what the hardest thing about being a caregiver is, women said:

  • 36% -- balancing time
  • 83% -- strained ability to manage work/life balance

In fact, only 31 percent are very satisfied with their work/life balance. Education and knowledge of your employer’s time off policies and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will prepare you for what you can expect when you need to care for a loved one. Take this quiz to see how much you know about FMLA.

Ninety-one percent of employed female caregivers have had to take some action to accommodate being both a caregiver and an employee. The most common change was using paid time off. What is striking is that nearly half of all daughters in the workplace feel they must choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter. This is a result of work environment pressures leading to 25 percent of daughters believing there is a stigma associated with taking time off to care for a parent or parent-in-law.

Take matters into your own hands and identify what you need from your employer to feel supported as a caregiver. Spend time developing a “Working Family Caregiver Support List” and share your concerns with your manager or leader. If you need help generating your list, Home Instead compiled recommended ways employers can accommodate family caregivers.

The Sandwich Generation

This generation of women is being pulled in three directions: parenting, caregiving and working. Twenty-six percent of working women are caring for children and parents. If you don’t fall into that category, maybe you’re financially supporting an adult child just like more than 50 percent of caregivers surveyed. Perhaps you’re regularly caring for a grandchild. In any circumstance, you’re stretched thin.

When you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to recognize that you have the power to control your life situation; don’t let it control you. You can do this in a variety of ways:

  • Make your “Working Family Caregiver Support List” and share with your employer. If flexible scheduling would make it easier for you to balance caregiving and parenting, be sure to speak up.
  • Hire personal and home care aides, like those employed by your local Home Instead® office. Home Instead CAREGiversSM can provide companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping, which are many of the tasks that you’re likely having trouble fitting into your schedule. What’s even better is that home care aides are often seniors themselves who can relate to the interests and lifestyles of your parents.
  • Take a break to care for yourself. It’s easier said than done, but try not to allow caregiving to consume your life. Review these six health tips for working family caregivers.

If you’re feeling the strain of being a working caregiver, utilize the resources and tools in the comprehensive “Daughters in the Workplace” program to guide you through your specific situation and turn to the Caregiver Stress Facebook page for support.

Last revised: June 1, 2018

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