It's hard enough for most working women to balance the demands of work with children, schools, financial responsibilities
and a multitude of family obligations.
Add to that the burden of care giving for an elderly parent, and many women find themselves at their wits end.
It's one thing to advise such individuals to try to find downtime for themselves in order to enhance mental and physical health and well-being, but the sad reality is, there is often not enough help from other family members or community services for them to do so.
Caregivers of senior parents often feel (and with good reason) as if they are pulled in many different directions at once, and it may be extremely difficult if not impossible to do everything for your aging parent, your children, your family, or yourself.
Recent surveys by the National Alliance of Caregivers and AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) have determined that the average caregiver to senior parents is a 46 year-old female with a full time job (nearly 61%!) with children, family responsibilities and obligations.
Studies have also shown a steady decline in the personal health of such elderly parent caregivers, because women tend to do for others before they do for themselves. In addition, these women are also sacrificing, and often suffering, because they must often miss work because of aging parent care obligations in addition to facing the very real possibility of losing their jobs because of such demands.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that nearly 30% of workforce employees provide elder care for a parent or parents
Studies show that these women often spend more time involved in elder care of parents than they do in the workplace, which results in fewer work hours, less take-home pay, or benefits such as health care for themselves.
In addition, such providers of elder care also give up on personal hobbies and activities that help them reduce stress, such as exercise, socializing and 'personal time'.
It's easy to suggest methods and techniques that might help save a caregiver of aging parents time, but another thing to put them into practice.
There's always a husband, child or boss who 'just needs one little thing' here, or 'can you do that for me' there. Because of such constant and never-ending demands on your time, frustration, resentment, and anger may eventually build up, and in many cases lead to health issues for a caregiver.
Have a talk with family members and enlist their help to provide elder care. Lip service is one thing, but actually making a connection to other family members is not an easy task. Many will sympathize with you about your busy schedule, but don't seem to make the connection that every little thing they ask you to do may only add to your already heavy burdens.
Of course, this only works if the spouse is willing to work with you on privacy, financial and elderly parent care taking issues.
Many employers will offer more flexible hours to individuals providing elder care, but these issues need to be discussed and agreed upon. Discuss the possibility of taking some of your workload home. Can you engage in conference calls from home when necessary?
Remember that employers are also scrambling to fill the void created by unscheduled absenteeism. In order to meet his or her obligations with an aging parent, employers are often open to suggestions regarding such situations. Be open. Be honest. Be willing to compromise with your employer regarding ideas and suggestions.
This is the only way to ensure that his, your, and your aging parent's needs might be met.
Finding enough help, being able to adequately care for elderly parents, children, spouses and jobs takes its toll every year on men and women (mostly women) who care for aging parents.
To maintain your health and your sanity, elder caregivers are strongly encouraged to discuss such issues with employers and other family members. Many employers will work with employees faced with such issues, but you have to be willing to discuss them before strategies that suit everyone can be explored.
Communication is the key to getting the help and support you need.
How are Mom and Dad and How are you coping?
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