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Work-Life Balance: Finding Balance As A Caregiver
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Work-Life Balance: Finding Balance As A Caregiver - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Finding Balance As A Caregiver

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Finding Balance As A Caregiver

Most of the conversation about work-life balance involves managing the demands of a career while also managing the needs of families, usually as those needs relate to children, personal time, and family togetherness. But an increasing number of professionals (as high as 29% by some estimates) is also tending to the needs of elderly parents. This number is expected to rise steadily in the next decade or two, and many workplaces have already taken steps to deal with this reality. For many of us, with or without these considerations, there is a stress unique to taking care of elderly parents, and it’s important to think about how we’re going to deal with it.

Your biggest issue is stress, so any thought about finding balance involves managing this stress. According to an article in U.S. News, for most caregivers, the key is flexibility. Even the most skilled schedule-jugglers are going to need time during a regular work day to take care of their loved ones’ needs. The article reports that the ability to take time off without burning vacation days is particular helpful. In response, many companies offer unspecified paid time off for any reason: illness, children’s illness, parents’ illness, pets’ illness, or other obligations. One prominent accounting firm announced a few years ago that it was giving all U.S. employees unlimited paid time off for sick leave. The number of sick days taken went down, rather than up. Other ways employers help with stress levels is to provide information about available services, providing dependent care assistance, and giving employees increased control over their schedules.

Those of us not quite as blessed to be working with understanding companies have a greater challenge, of course, but the proactive employee can still take steps toward gaining some of this stress relief. First, open and honest dialogue about we need in order to do our jobs well and still take care of filial responsibility can go a long way. If there is one positive in the increased numbers of us taking care of our elderly parents, it’s that we now share the experience. It’s seldom difficult nowadays to find at least a sympathetic ear in levels of management that can make a difference. If nothing else, an experienced ear can provide helpful advice even when it can’t provide paid time off. It’s not everything, but it’s a step. How are others in your company managing the same stress you’re dealing with? Just talking about it can go a long way.

If you’re only recently a caregiver, you’ll find that there’s an abundance of advice on the web, and a growing number of services you might take advantage of. Caregivers in the United Kingdom who spend at least 35 hours per week attending to someone (not necessarily a relative) can receive an allowance from the government of about $87 per week, among other benefits. In the United States, there are respite services for caregivers needing a break, sometimes covered by employers or insurance companies.

As with many complications in life, a key to managing some kind of balance in the face of increased familial responsibility is empathy. As the employee-caregiver, keeping an attitude of empathy for your employer, supervisor, and loved ones doesn’t necessarily relieve stress, but it makes it easier to deal with. An encouraging and overwhelming majority of caregivers report that their experience is more blessing than burden, certainly a empathetic response to a tricky situation. Extending empathy to others also encourages empathy from others, and this is critical as we all navigate these challenging but important waters.

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Work-Life Balance: Finding Balance As A Caregiver - Executive Leadership Articles

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