Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don’t know about us may surprise you. Discover all the ‘Real Possibilities’

Most
Popular

Viewed

Afraid to Tell Your Boss You're a Caregiver?

Ways to manage extra duties at home without jeopardizing your job.

Deborah Smith, 55, a federal employee in North Carolina, is the 24/7 long-distance caregiver to her friend Donna, who lives in Florida and has dementia and no family. Smith visits Donna every four to six weeks but avoids discussing her at work because "I fear not being promoted or selected for training that could enhance my career," she says. "I fear I may be on the chopping block if I appear too distracted."

Even when workers explain their situation, younger or parentless superiors and coworkers may not "get" it. "Instead of saying to themselves, 'I admire this person because he has the guts to take off work as a way of coping with the situation,' coworkers and managers think, 'How dare they leave, why don't they just hire someone else?' " says Sarah Bullard Steck, a Washington, D.C., social worker in private practice and former director of an employee assistance program that addressed elder care issues.

Challenges all around

What makes elder care unusually challenging is its unpredictability. You might ask about taking off every Tuesday at 3 p.m. for your child's soccer, but you have no heads-up about when your mother is going to fall and break a hip. Experts believe there may be a bit of ageism lurking, too.

"As a society, we don't always respect and honor older adults needing care as much as we should," says Melissa Brown of Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging & Work. "Maybe we are afraid to look at our own aging."

"Many businesses don't consider elder care an issue and call me only when there's a crisis," says Linda Ziac, president of the Caregiver Resource Center, which offers corporate seminars on elder care issues. "Companies need to acknowledge the workforce is aging and has aging parents, and what not addressing their struggles costs them."

Next: Caregiving costs. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Caregiving
Resource Center

Find tools, work sheets and tips on how to plan, prepare and succeed as a caregiver. Select a Caregiving Resource Center topic from the drop-down menu below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx discount card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

Woman trying on glasses in optometrists shop

Members save up to 60% on eye exams from Sears Optical.

membership schwanns discount

Members get double Schwan’s rewards on all online orders from Schwan's Home Service™.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.