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Chat Transcript: Juggling Work and Caregiving

AARP expert Amy Goyer answers your questions

Comment from Twitter user @CBPotts: It's very tricky to balance work with caregiving at a distance. Any tips for those of us who live far away?

Amy Goyer: I go back and forth between being a long-distance caregiver and actually living with my parents. It's tough being so far away. You might consider telecommuting for even part of your work time. Before I moved to Phoenix to help my parents I did that intermittently.

You might also consider adjusting your work schedule, such as a compressed work schedule. I worked four longer days and on the fifth day I was off work so I could make phone calls, manage finances, etc.

Be sure to take advantage of technology: You can video chat at your loved one's doctor appointments (Skype, FaceTime, etc.), and set up technology in their home as well. Here's a video I did on "smart homes" that might be interesting to you!

Check out the AARP Caregiving Resource Center for more help with long-distance caregiving.

Comment from David S: On a good day it is challenging to balance work and caregiving. Do you have any recommendations for caregiving where alcoholism overshadows the venue?

Amy Goyer: You're right: It's a huge challenge, and when other issues complicate matters it can be overwhelming. You might contact Al Anon, an organization that supports families of alcoholics. See if there is a local support group you can go to. It will have good suggestions for you about how to cope.

And for those of you who have other overshadowing family issues to deal with, please remember to get help with those issues. It's hard to juggle work, caregiving and other family issues all at the same time.

You can reach out for family counseling, family mediation, support groups and other types of help.

Comment from Kathy B: How do I talk with my boss about the fact that I need to have a more flexible schedule? I'm feeling pinched and don't want to make myself vulnerable as someone who doesn't need the job.

Amy Goyer: Kathy, you are wise to proceed with caution. See my comments above to JDM about how to talk with employers. Above all, reaffirm your commitment to your job and your desire to keep working and meet your employer's needs while also living up to your caregiving responsibilities.

And if you have examples of how a flexible work schedule has worked out well for other employees or in other companies, that might help. You can also talk first with your human resources department to get their input and understand company policies. Hope it works out for you!

Comment from Mary: How might I get paid as a caregiver if I need to cut back hours on my job?

Amy Goyer: We get this question a lot! Many people have to cut back on work or quit jobs to care for loved ones, but they still need an income.

Your family member could pay you to be a caregiver. But sometimes money is tight. Here are a few funding sources that might help:

Veterans' benefits: Veterans who were on active duty during wartime and meet other asset and expense requirements may be able to receive Veterans Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits to help with long-term care. These funds can be used to pay for caregiving services. Vets may also receive health care as well as special funds to pay for a limited amount of respite care.

Long-term care insurance: If your loved ones have long-term care insurance that covers home care, those funds might be used to pay you as their caregiver.

Medicaid: In some states, Medicaid funds can be used to pay family caregivers to provide care at home. This is more rare, though.

Also find out about paying taxes: Check with an accountant and do your homework. There are new laws going into place that might affect this. If you do get paid as a caregiver for your family member, be sure to have a written agreement outlining all the details such as pay, schedule, time off, responsibilities, etc. Remember that your loved ones may be able to write off caregiving expenses on their taxes. Also be very aware that you are a paid professional. Take the job seriously: It may be family, but you are doing a very important job in caring for them.

Next page: Part-time opportunities for caregivers. »

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