Chat Transcript: Juggling Work and Caregiving

AARP expert Amy Goyer answers your questions

Comment from Elisa: Is there a good site for jobs that offer part-time opportunities? I'm thinking this may be good for me to do for myself, as I need the money and a break.

Amy Goyer: Elisa, that's a great question. Sometimes part-time work is the best way to go for working caregivers. You can check out AARP's job search site for some possibilities.

If you qualify, you might find work through the Senior Community Service Employment Program. AARP Foundation has this program, as do several other community organizations. Or check out the Department of Labor website and its one-stop employment centers.

Comment from Monica: My current job doesn't support me much as a caregiver. I'm considering changing jobs to something that I can balance better with taking care of my aunt. What should I look for in a new employer?

Amy Goyer: Employer support for caregivers really varies. You are wise to take a look at policies before you take a new job. Here are some things that might be offered:

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Some employers offer employee assistance programs to help employees with personal issues that might otherwise affect their work. Services might include short-term counseling, information and referrals to services.

Caregiver support groups: Some employers offer caregiver support groups that meet on-site during lunch or after working hours. They may provide a trained facilitator, speakers, a place to meet and refreshments.

Counseling benefits: Does your health insurance include mental health support, therapy or counseling? These may give you valuable support and guidance to navigate the caregiving journey.

Information and referral/assistance: These services might include caregiving fairs with a variety of local eldercare and other types of services, lunchtime seminars, printed materials, access to websites with targeted information and a call center.

Legal assistance: If your employer offers discounted legal services as part of its employee benefits package, you might get help with powers of attorney or other legal issues related to caring for your loved ones.

There are more resources in my book, Juggling Work and Caregiving.

Comment from Guest: I'm having trouble focusing at work. Between helping Mom, taking care of the kids, etc., I'm exhausted and I can't concentrate at work sometimes. I need my job, so I can't afford to get fired. Help!

Amy Goyer: It's no wonder you are having trouble focusing! I always say sleep deprivation is the biggest enemy of caregivers because it robs us of our ability to cope (and focus!) It's good you are noticing this and willing to do something about it.

This is such a big issue — caring for ourselves as caregivers. I devoted an entire chapter to this in my book. I suggest specific ways to build in things that lift you up, help you get rest, reduce stress and rejuvenate you.

For example, first off: Acknowledge your emotions. Caregiving is an emotional roller coaster, and you add in all of those other things and it's really overload. You'll feel anger, frustration, fear, grief, sorrow, joy, elation ... the entire gamut of emotions. But this range can be draining mentally, emotionally and physically.

Next page: Maintaining your own health and sanity as a caregiver. »

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