Eldercare and career don’t always feel compatible, but millions of people work outside the home while also caring for an aging and or ill family member or friend. According to research, the majority of caregivers struggle at work as a result of their caregiving. Sixty percent report that they cut back their hours, change jobs or quit as a result of eldercare.
So what can you do to caregiver-proof your career? I recently shared tips for working daughters on Lori LaBay’s radio show Alzheimer’s Speaks. You can listen here.
Here are a few takeaways:
The first thing you need to do is accept that you are a caregiver. This is important because the sooner you accept that role, the sooner you start to incorporate it into your life, and you don’t waste unnecessary energy resisting it or wishing things were different. Wishing doesn’t do anything. Only action does.
One of the most dangerous things you can do in life – as a caregiver, or in any situation – is wait until things get better, until someone heals, until work slows down. Your life is now. Your career is now. It may not look like what you thought it would, but the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can make it work for you.
Next, remember you are playing a long game. Maybe your caregiving years are not the time to be a rockstar at work.The week I returned to work after my mother’s funeral – two clients fired me. I thought that surely my career was tanked. Three years later, I’m launching new ventures. Most of us are going to be working for many years to come. Pace yourself.
Speaking of the long game, how about starting a business? According to the AARP, the family caregiver market is expected to reach $72 billion by 2020. This is a market ripe for, and frankly desperate for, innovation. And did you know that the future is bright for women entrepreneurs over the age of 50?
Not interested in the start-up life? Create change from within. If you’re a manager and/or in a position of influence at your place of work, start a dialogue at work about eldercare. Or form a support group. Examine your company’s benefits package. Help pave the way for you and future caregivers..
And finally, consider hiring your own team to support you through your caregiving journey – outsource the tasks and get some coaching through the rough patches.
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