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Tips for Working Caregivers

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Know Your Rights

Consult with human resources about what you are entitled to under the law. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires large employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off with job protection when workers must care for a sick or injured parent. Some states have extended this coverage to include small businesses as well.

Take Advantage of Benefits

Ask about flexible-work options. This could mean a compressed work week or a modified daily schedule based on need. Job-sharing and telecommuting are also caregiver-friendly options to explore. Many employers offer flexible work options on a case-by-case basis even if there is no formal policy.

Contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and find out what support services are available, such as counseling on reducing stress and managing your time. 

Many companies offer access to eldercare referral services through an online database or live consultants. Such services reduce the burden of having to do distracting and time-consuming research.

Respectfully share information with your manager or HR on how employers can support working caregivers. 

Build a Support System

Connect with other caregivers at your place of work. It’s likely that some of your fellow workers face the same caregiving challenges.

Put in a request to human resources to sponsor brown bag lunches or an employee resource group to help with caregiving issues. Or you could organize your own, informal group to meet during your lunch hour.

Thank your coworkers who take on extra assignments or help you with work projects. They are part of your community, too.

 Make sure your manager knows about your accomplishments at work. This will show you are able to deal with multiple priorities.

Join the Caregiving group on the AARP Online Community to share your story, get support, and connect with other caregivers.

Plan for the Future

When it comes to caring for an aging loved one, most families don’t have a plan until there is a problem. But as many working caregivers have discovered, the stress of making caregiving arrangements in “crisis mode” can be overwhelming. AARP’s Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families, is a step-by-step guide for creating a caregiving plan in advance. Even if you have been a caregiver for years, the guide can help you get support and stay organized. Tell your employer about it!

You may also like: Balancing work and caregiving. >>

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