Holding a Job When You’re the Caregiver
By: Derek Hobson
It’s a reality we’re all going to have to face at one time or another: our elders need care. Of course, there are numerous options available: you can sign your senior up at an Adult Day Care, you can hire an in-home caregiver, you can move your elder into a senior living community… or you’ll become the caregiver yourself.
How hard could it be, right?
Depending on your senior’s condition, it might be a breeze and you’ll get by with the love and support of your family. However if your experience is anything like mine, then allow me now to lend an empathetic ear because it is not easy.
Elders that suffer dementia – as my grandmother did – may be startled whenever the sun goes down, so after work (or school) you’re caught trying to keep them calm after a rough day. Or how about when your senior wanders through the hallways at night and starts cooking, only to leave the stove on so you and your family rotate who sleeps in front of your elder’s door. Or how about when you’ve become so sleep deprived yourself that you’re arguing with your family members about whether or not your senior took her pills for the day or not.
I repeat, it is not easy.
This is made doubly challenging if you find yourself trying to hold a job. You may be hopped up on caffeine, struggling to stay awake, while trying to keep up with last week’s workload that somehow managed to sneak its way over into this week. You’re wound tight and disappointed and angry and frustrated, so what do you do?
Tell your boss.
Tell your supervisor, employer, HR representative, etc. Tell whoever is around to listen that your family has just recently undergone a huge shift in dynamic and you’re taking care of your senior. Most people neglect this duty because they compartmentalize personal and professional life, but this is one of those times where it’s okay to let it out.
Most companies are sympathetic to struggles with elder care and many more in our modern age are willing to be flexible with hours. Others may divide your workload amongst several co-workers and still some find abbreviated days acceptable so long as you answer your phone/email if something should come up.
Even if your company doesn’t alter your hours, many will make concessions for employees to go home if there’s an emergency. This is why it’s pivotal to let your work know what’s going on. If you want to hold a job while providing elderly care for your loved one, then you need to tell your employer.
Plus, always remember that due to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, you’re allowed 12 weeks of unpaid leave from your work. Now people use that time when their loved one is in critical condition, but it is legal so don’t be afraid to take advantage of it.
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