Eldercare and the Workplace: How to Strike a Balance
Canadian employers are understandably concerned about the effects that elder care has on the workforce. In Canada, over 70% of caregivers to the elderly also hold down a job. Many of these caregivers also have a family of their own, with children still living at home.
The stress is too much for some to handle; more than a fifth of Canadians caring for an elderly relative have reported that the dual demands of work and care giving may force them to retire earlier than they had wanted. Other caregivers report elevated levels of stress, sickness, absenteeism from work, and depression compared to their non-caregiver peers.
Here are a few ideas for caregivers to help strike a balance between work and their role as a caregiver:
1. Talk to your employer. First of all, you should communicate with your employer to let them know what’s going on with your family situation. You may be concerned that your employer will “punish” you for needing to take care of your family, but the majority of employers are increasingly sympathetic and understanding. As the percentage of elderly Canadians is rapidly increasing, so is employer sensitivity to the issue of caregiver responsibilities.
2. Use an adult day care facility. Adult day care facilities are springing up throughout Canada. These are ideal facilities for caregivers who want their elderly relatives to stay out of a nursing home but can’t leave them by themselves during the work day.
3. Find a caregiver support group. Caregivers suffer in part because they feel very isolated in their responsibilities. If the feeling of isolation and stress is beginning to wear on you, find a support group before it’s too late. Otherwise, the stress will affect your health and your work.
Striking a balance between your role as caregiver and your role as employee is crucial if you wish to remain effective at both.