News articles and statistics on caregiving and employment often focus on the losses suffered by companies when adult children take time off to care for their elderly loved ones. But what about the impact that caregiving has on the employee who’s trying to take care of work and their aging parent?
The Impact of Caregiving on Your Employment
It’s long been known that people who care for an aging parent deal with increased stress and can suffer from caregiver burnout. Poor sleep, anxiety, and less “me” time to pursue personal interests are just some of the issues that caregivers face. For working Canadians, the demands of caregiving are even worse and have a domino effect on the workplace. The result is more time off work and reduced productivity.
A recent Ryerson University study focused on the impact that caring for an aging parent has on workers. It looked at two groups of people in a caregiver role – those with senior care responsibilities and those in the sandwich generation who are juggling both childcare and senior care responsibilities. The results of the study were somewhat surprising. The group with only senior care demands was more overwhelmed that the group juggling both. They reported more difficulty with work-life balance and were more negatively impacted overall.
Work and Caring for Your Aging Loved One
If you have children, chances are you’ve had to skip out of work early or take time off to look after your child, be it for an illness or injury, or a medical appointment. If you don’t have children, you’ve likely had a co-worker miss time for these same reasons. Most employers are understanding of parents and their childcare responsibilities. Many companies even offer assistance for parents, such as onsite daycare or paid family responsibility days. Unfortunately, people who don’t have kids often don’t get the same compassion or support when the needs of their aging loved one interferes with work.
The hope is that employers will use the information from this and other studies when considering benefits for employees in a family caregiver role. A better understanding of the profound impact that looking after an aging parent has on an employee and how it can affect their job may help foster a more family-friendly culture that offers the same consideration and assistance to those in a senior care role.
What to Do In The Meantime
While some employers are supportive of those with familial responsibilities outside of just childcare, we still have a long way to go. Where does that leave you if you have a job and an older parent in need of care? Fortunately, you have options.
Here are some ideas to make work-life balance easier so that adult children and their aging loved one gets the care they need:
- Speak to your employer about your situation so they are aware of your caregiving obligations; being honest may help reduce job-related anxieties.
- Look into any support that your employer may offer, such as flexible work arrangements, employee assistance programs, etc.
- Share the responsibilities with other family members and friends – you don’t need to do it alone.
- Find a caregiver support group online or in your area.
- Take care of yourself – it’s critical to balancing your work and caregiving demands.
- Hire a home care agency – home care services can be adjusted to fit your needs whether that’s occasional respite care, so you get a break or ongoing home care services.
David Porter, CPCA
Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care
Halinski M, Duxbury L, Higgins C. (2018). Working While Caring for Mom, Dad, and Junior Too: Exploring the Impact of Employees’ Caregiving Situation on Demands, Control, and Perceived Stress. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0192513X18777839
Government of Canada. (2016). Balancing work and caregiving responsibilities, tips for employed caregivers of family or friends. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/tips-caregivers.html#h2.5