Since caregiving is one of your most important responsibilities, it is worth discussing with your employer. Hopefully your boss will try to work with you by allowing you to change your schedule, telecommute, take advantage of flex time, or job share. Caregivers in the United States now total 54 million strong. That’s a hard number for employers to ignore. Many companies offer counseling and other educational programs to assist with such intense life challenges. According to FamilyCareGiving101.org: one in five adults in the U.S. are considered caregivers, and 62 percent of working caregivers have to rearrange their job situations.
Your Boss Has a Heart Too
Many caregivers run into on-the-job problems because they are simply too scared to have a heart-to-heart with their boss. Ilene, an accountant from New Orleans and a caregiver of 12 years, says that when she finally told her boss about her caregiving duties, she was surprised to discover that her employer respected her all the more for her dedication. She said, “The company went out of its way to provide comfort and even offer financial aid when times were particularly tough.”
Think of it this way, if your employer doesn’t know that you are coming in late or leaving early because you spend your nights caretaking your elderly mother, he or she may assume that you just don’t care about your job, or that you are not professionally motivated. YOU, as a caregiver, need the security of your job even more while caring for someone else. Sit down and explain to your boss that while you enjoy you work, and you are fully dedicated, you’re tired and overwhelmed. Chances are, your boss wants to help you. Your boss hired you for a reason and he or she needs you as much as you need them. Explain that you need help—and you may find it.
Your boss may have great suggestions on flexible hours—or arranging that you work one day a week at home. You can use that day to run errands for your loved one, schedule all your doctor appointments—and more.
When the Boss Doesn’t Care
In a shiny, happy world, all bosses will go out of their way to help you help them. But some bosses, quite frankly, may not care.
If you are laid off, demoted, fired, or quite simply passed over for a promotion because you take off time or make phone calls to doctors at your desk—take heart and take the time to:
If we caregivers pool our efforts and resources, we can make headway in how governments and employers view caregiving. Whether you transport a friend to the hospital for regular appointments, take mom grocery shopping and clean her house, or help your disabled child prepare for each day, you enrich someone’s quality of life and understand the importance of being a caregiver.
Laws & Legislation
In America, legislation is constantly being introduced to Congress in order to ease some of the burdens of caregiving and educate a nation on the value of this often thankless mission; you can view these (and all) proposed bills online. Despite the fact that most caregivers do not have much time left over at the end of each day, you absolutely can make a difference by actively contacting those who can instigate change, such as your state senator and representatives.
And, if you don’t hear this enough: thank you for caring enough to do all that you do every day. As Diana, Princess of Wales, said, “Every one of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.”