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Job Stress Takes On A New Meaning for Family Caregivers

If you thought your 9 to 5 day job plus commute is stressful, imagine having the equivalent of a part-time job on top of it—except you don’t get paid for it. The part-time job I’m referring to is family caregiving, when the care of a spouse, elderly parent or another close family member falls on you. This is the reality facing roughly half of the U.S. work force in the next few years according to the AARP. Working caregivers face tough decisions when it comes to balancing their work and caregiving responsibilities. They often have to miss work, come in late or leave early to provide care, while others end up changing jobs, cutting back on hours or leaving the work force entirely. So what does a working caregiver need to know so they can better manage this difficult situation? The first place to look for information is your HR department.

Companies are taking more steps to help their workers help their loved ones. Be sure to talk to your company’s HR director about your new role as a caregiver. They can let you know about any assistance programs they might offer, as well as fill you in on the details of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under this act, eligible employees are entitled to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave to care for a spouse, child or parent suffering from a serious health condition without fear of losing their job. As soon as you find out you will be responsible for the care of a loved one, schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss your options. Let them know that you may have to come in late or leave early to take your mom to a doctor’s appointment, but also assure them you will make up for the lost time the next day. Being upfront about your situation makes you seem responsible and in control, which will help you out when you need to ask your boss for flexibility as you take on your new responsibilities as caregiver.

For more information on balancing work and caregiving, visit the AARP’s website.