Almost 20 percent of today’s workforce – one out of every five employees – is a family caregiver. And about 70 percent of those working caregivers report increased absenteeism, interruptions and distractions throughout the work day, shifting workload to co-workers, cutting back working hours, passing up promotions, taking leaves of absence or early retirement, and other conflicts between their work and caregiving responsibilities.
Nearly half of all working caregivers report emotional stress and take prescription medications for anxiety and depression two to three times more than the general population.
That’s what living in constant fear of making mistakes or letting others down either at work or at home can do to you. But with these coping strategies, it doesn’t have to:
- Don’t keep it to yourself. Your supervisor and co-workers can’t help you if they don’t know what you need help with. Many of them may have been caregivers themselves and may surprise you with their understanding and willingness to help. Supervisors prefer to know about potential problems in advance, so they can prepare for them. So talk with yours sooner rather than later. Start by emphasizing your commitment to being a productive and effective team member. Prepare for the future by suggesting you may need flexibility and support if your caregiving situation changes. If you need help now, be matter-of-fact about it, not emotional. Discuss ideas on how to meet work responsibilities while caregiving, then develop and document a mutually agreeable plan. If your employer’s HR policies include flex-time, compressed work schedules, telecommuting, paid or unpaid leave, job-sharing, temporary reduction of hours, or stress management programs and counseling, they should be part of your overall plan.
- Don’t underwork or overwork. Ask for feedback on your job performance; knowing that you’re doing okay can relieve one source of stress. Prioritize what’s most and least important, and postpone or delegate the latter. Aim for respectable, acceptable, decent work rather than 1,000% perfection. Focus on your job at work, your family responsibilities at home, and use your commuting time to transition between them.
- Take care of yourself, too. A bit of daily self-care boosts your physical and mental health, as well as your work performance. Sleep at least seven hours a night. Eat healthy food. Avoid junk food and overeating or –drinking. Exercise. Meditate. Pray. Talk with friends, family, clergy or counselor. Avoid toxic people. Do something that’s fun. Give thanks for your blessings. Caring for yourself keeps you in better shape to care for others.
- Get the exact help you need, exactly when you need it. Click for a free 30-minute consultation. We specialize in only one thing – your family’s specific needs, as determined by an in-depth, three-part assessment. Whether it’s getting home safety equipment installed, nutritional services, drivers, part-time nursing aides, or full-time care, we’ll plan services based on your unique needs and financial condition and nothing else. So you don’t have to worry about the health and safety risks of too little care or the waste of money and undermining of independence that can result from the wrong kind, or too much. And you’ll be able to go to work with a clearer, less stressful frame of mind.