Liz O’Donnell was 47 when she became one of America’s 34 million adults providing unpaid care for their aging relatives. She knew her generous employer would allow her the flexibility to take time away from work for this important task. Yet at the same time, she was the primary source of income for her family. Therefore, she knew she had to find a balance and make it work. Caring for aging parents while making a living can be very challenging and financially straining.
Liz O’Donnell knew her mother had only months to live. Due to this, she prioritized care and took on part-time work for that time period. However, not all caregiving for aging parents is that short term. Sixteen percent of unpaid caregivers take on a less demanding job and twelve percent leave the work force entirely. In turn, about seven percent lose their job related benefits, leading to higher insurance and health care costs. There is a staggering loss in wage, pension, and Social Security benefits to these individuals, according to this Money article.
Despite these unfortunate statistics, there are ways to balance work and family caregiving. Definitely aim to maximize your company benefits. Whether you choose flex-time, working remotely, or taking advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Make sure you pay attention to what your company offers.
Additionally, share the load with siblings. It’s so common for one sibling to take on the majority of the caregiving responsibilities. Try dividing up tasks between siblings. On the other hand, if siblings don’t live locally, utilize professionals. Arizona Elder Care has aging life care managers that can guide and assist.
Lastly, practicing self care is one of the most important things you can do. If you’re going to use a lot of your sick leave to care for your parents, you need to stay healthy yourself. Self care can be as simple as drinking enough water or taking a daily walk outside.
Half of all family caregivers report they had no choice in their role. Whether it was due to financial constraints or a feeling of responsibility to their parents. But it is possible (although difficult) to maintain a career and make a living. Caring for aging parents can be one of the most challenging yet very rewarding journeys we experience.