November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to honor the more than 50 million unsung heroes who support their older loved ones in aging with dignity and grace.
Many family caregivers are working caregivers; that is, they have a primary occupation in addition to caring for an aging loved one. Choosing to work while also providing care for an older person in their life comes with specific downsides, as a recent survey of 1,000 working caregivers shows.
What Challenges Do Working Caregivers Face?
According to recently published results from a survey by Carewell, some of the biggest hurdles that working caregivers face include the following:
- 41 percent of survey respondents reported that they faced financial problems after choosing to take on caregiving responsibilities because they had to cover medical expenses for their loved ones or cut their work hours down.
- Caregiver fatigue is an issue as well, with 34 percent of working caregivers reporting that they made mistakes at work because they were exhausted due to splitting their time between caregiving and working. Nearly half, or 47 percent, say they regularly feel burnt out.
- 42 percent of participants said they had delayed retirement due to the imbalance between caregiver duties and their career.
- 53 percent said that they had to make career sacrifices to serve as a caregiver.
What Does “Flexibility” Mean to Working Caregivers?
Workplace accommodations are among the most desired changes that caregivers taking part in the survey want to see. Many respondents reported they wanted to work for an employer that prioritizes their ability to create proper work-life balance.
Fifteen percent of people surveyed said they planned to quit their job within six months if they did not receive accommodation from their jobs and more flexibility. (Another 30 percent said they already had quit at least one job that had failed to support their role as a caregiver.) But what do caregivers mean exactly when they say they want flexibility?
Some respondents stated they found caring for a loved one while trying to maintain a career unmanageable. They did offer potential solutions for ways in which employers could provide more flexibility in the workplace:
- 69 percent of respondents want an option for remote work or flexible work hours. In fact, 40 percent said they would be willing to endure pay cuts if they could gain more flexibility to take care of their loved one.
- 53 percent of respondents want additional paid time off to tend to caregiving responsibilities.
- 52 percent cited office culture as an issue and wanted a larger focus on promoting work-life balance.
- 46 percent want their workplace to implement caregiver support programs.
- 31 percent desire training on advancing their careers while caregiving.
Perhaps if employers take the concerns of working caregivers seriously, more care providers can remain in the workforce.
Resources for Caregivers
More than 53 million, or one in five Americans, were serving as family caregivers in 2020. The responsibility often falls on loved ones who must sacrifice to care for their aging family members. If you are a caregiver who needs support, don’t hesitate to check out the resources available to you, some of which are free:
- The Caregiver Action Network offers a free family caregiver toolbox online. It includes pointers on self-care, tips on juggling caregiving with work, and links to helpful support groups and other organizations.
- Individuals caring for people with dementia can make an account on the Family Caregiver Alliance website, which provides a dashboard with resources all in one place and a list of services by state. Or explore the supports available to caregivers through the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Consider investing in a geriatric care manager to help support you and your aging loved one. They can assist with providing medical referrals, finding appropriate social services for older adults, and creating a care plan.
- If you are concerned about your loved one qualifying for certain support programs, reach out to a qualified elder law attorney near you. They may be able to connect you with valuable resources or help you figure out how to afford care for your loved one.