The KAA-boomer Quandary: Juggling Caregiving and Work

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A 2009 study by Investors Group found that one-third of Canadian KAA-boomers spend either time or money looking after their aging parents. Many of those boomers also work full time and that can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion that causes both caregiving and career to suffer.

Careers suffer because caregiving responsibilities often interfere with work schedules – for example, taking time off for medical appointments, emergencies or hands-on care. In addition, caregivers often have difficulty focusing while at work because they feel guilty about not attending to the needs of their loved one.

Caregivers who work often pass up promotions, training, conferences, special projects and other career development opportunities because they feel they can’t work the extra hours, travel or devote the necessary time and energy.

And caregiving suffers because the caregiver is either not present or too tired to meet all their loved one’s needs.

Taking care of work

If you’re struggling to juggle the demands of caregiving and career, the first thing you need to do is talk with your manager before physical and mental exhaustion begin affecting your work. You don’t have to go into great detail — just describe your situation and how it may affect your schedule or availability for certain projects or shifts.  But you want to be clear that you’re committed to your job and you’re going to do everything you can to handle both responsibilities.

You may also want to discuss the possibility of a flexible schedule or being able to work from home some days.

More and more companies are realizing the strain many of their employees are under with parenting and/or eldercare responsibilities and are providing programs and resources to help. For example, some companies provide reimbursement for certain kinds of care or backup care.

Taking care of your loved one

Having a network of people who can take some of the pressure off you will give you more energy to care for your loved one and focus on your job. A caregiving network involves everyone who plays a part in your loved one’s care. This includes family members, friends, neighbours, health care providers, and any community agencies that are providing services or supports, such as a housekeeper or aide.

Also include people you can talk to when you’re feeling stressed and can fill in for you when needed. For example, having someone pick up your child from a basketball game because you need to be with your parent.

A final word

Finally, you want to keep a notebook on you at all times that contains the names and numbers of people you may need to contact in a crisis. And whenever possible, try to set limits on how often you attend to caregiving issues while you’re at work. Try to keep your caregiving and work responsibilities as separate as possible.

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