< Back to article

What Happened When I Told My Boss about Caregiving

50 Comments

Depending on the culture of your workplace, you may be able to start a support group there, say once a month or every other week on a specific day for lunch. You will need an educated moderator. If your supervisor and/or HR is agreeable (and they SHOULD be considering the productivity loss outcomes without assistance) you will need to find a qualified eldercare moderator. Once you get to that stage I could help with suggestions.

freqflyer - Yes, I can empathize, yet there are methods to help an elder "buy into" getting assistance at home. I'll get to those elders without dementia but first for those with dementia, an assessment by a GCM is still something I would recommend to be done first.

Caregiving agencies usually do not have the experience one requires to make an educated assessment. I say this as someone who worked in caregiving agencies for 8 years; if it were not for my many years of experience and advanced education in eldercare, I would not take it upon myself to perform an assessment on an older adult with dementia. Keep in mind many people will say they can, often to get you to move the older adult into a community, but you need an independent professional. After the assessment you may find the best solution is moving to a community that specializes in dementia. While that is never easy, it can be done and often must be done for the safety of the elder and others.

For older adults that do not suffer from dementia and are resistant to help in the home (which, in my experience, is 99% of them) starting to introduce someone slowly, if possible, can help. I've often started with having the elder to agree to a little assistance for laundry and cleaning. Wash machines are often in the basement and the stairs are risky. Falling is the beginning of bad news - fall, hospital, rehab in nursing home, then home again. If you share with the elder that this will be the process if they fall, they may accept a little help with "cleaning."

All this time, of course, a good caregiving will become friendly with the elder and eventually you will find they accept more hours for transportation, appointments, helping put up the holiday decorations and the like. Believe me when I say I KNOW how difficult this is, but understanding the personality of the elder along with the family dynamic is key to coming up with a solution. I've made some suggestions, but without understanding the person and the dynamic, that's all I can offer right now.

Some elders respond better to a certain adult child than another. It takes some thought. Each person may require a different "tactic" to keep them safe and without understanding them and the dynamic, I'm afraid that is all I can recommend at this time.

Veronica, many of us wish we could hire someone from an Agency to help with appointments, when and if the elder would stop peeping through the curtains and actually open the door for this person. Not going to happen.

As for support groups, such groups are hard to find mainly because not enough caregivers attend to keep the group active, they just don't have the time or energy. Or the group is held at a time where many of us are just getting out of work and sitting in traffic.

Wish there was an one size fits all.

I'm sure most of you seeking help with taking parents to appointments have considered hiring a caregiver from an agency, but I just wanted to suggest a few other options, especially if your elder might be short on money.

You will have to check with your own state, but in nearly every Wisconsin county we have a program for older adults to get this help without cost. A social worker visits with them to determine need and finances if they are eligible. Our program is called Family Care, but each state might have something different. There are also Alzheimer grants to which you can apply for funds and we have a non-profit called Interfaith that provides much needed assistance and little to no cost.

Has anyone ever tried adult day care?

GladImHere - I can understand your frustration. I too, earned my masters in gerontology while caregiving and trying to bring the "employee as elder caregiver" to the attention of companies. It seems that the most receptive employers have had very high level executives have this challenge; if the higher ups don't understand it, it's still a tough sell.

I've found help by being specific in my research to meet my needs in my career and personal life. Sometimes you have to sit down and literally make a list of the important "bubbles" in your life (as I call them). I have three bubbles: career, self and personal (which includes friends, family and dogs). I check in with my three bubbles weekly to ensure I am giving proper attention to each. Might sound silly, the whole bubble thing, but I see them that way. Whatever works. I've learned, after several years, that writing newsletters to help educate the employer and employee are one of the major focuses with which I want to work and am starting that now.

Aside from career and post caregiving stresses, make sure you are doing something to make you happy. I find that volunteering for my favorite causes makes be feel validated no matter how the week is going. You may even meet people that are like minded or have gone through what you have.

Don't discount support groups. Research elder caregiving support groups in your area and attend a few meetings. They should not exclude you because you are no longer caregiving. Sharing your post caregiving thoughts and fears with others should help you feel your feet on the ground again, at least to start. Try, at least at first, to keep your attention focused on your post caregiving challenges in such a meeting, not your career challenges. It may come up, which is fine, but I would separate the two at least to start. You don't want to overwhelm yourself or others in the group at each meeting.

Did you use a hospice organization? The one I used would check in with me regularly and after the one year mark, sent me a letter assuring me they would always be there for me.

From what I understand, you are experiencing separate challenges: post caregiver and job search. Feed each separately a little at a time, otherwise you may remain overwhelmed. I'm not a recruiter or a counselor (which may be a good place to start in getting help), but I hope some of this helps you nonetheless.

The help I need is overcoming my past caregiving life! I worked in land planning and development in project management before this craziness. I earned a Master's in Public Administration during this craziness and took out student loans to do it that may never be paid back. I am at a co plete loss!

Maybe that is the problem I am not being clear of what I need. I need to find work, a list of employers that will take what they see as a risk, an employer that understands that caregiving is not mooching off of the folks, it is not days of leisure, it is not sitting watching tv and eating bonbons, it is hard, challenging work that is not understood even by family members. I am now viewed as an unknown commodity. There were national leaders at this presentation today, I spoke with one of them, I have emailed my legislstors, I have even emailed tye committee at AARP that is looking at caregiving issues, no response. I have emailed Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Phil, Maria Shriver, Leeza Gibbons and others hoping someone would help. I have explained to potential employers what caregiving is. There is nowhere to turn for help. And I have worked with a wonderful GCM that while caring for Mom and her hubby, now she takes the stance I am no longer a caregiver and has requested that I leave her alone.

Dear GladImHere, I'm so sorry no one offered you assistance. That is an embarrassment to professionals in aging such as myself. I hope none of these individuals were geriatric care managers, as they are one of the best choices one can make when needing assistance with eldercare. You may want to keep in mind, of course, that because of their very advanced ability to manage elder situations, they do have a cost, which I feel is quite fair for the help they provide. If there are any recommendations I can make, please feel free to be more specific in your needs. Am I understanding that you need help adjusting since your elder caregiving ended?

Veronica, this is what gets me frustrated there is help out there for help with caregiving issues. Many do not even think about a very important caregiving issue. What about caregiving coming to an end, then caregiver has had years, in my case four, and wants to return to thei profession? I was at a seminar this morning about the aging population and trying to prepare for the silver tsunami. Lots of information on services needed as the population ages, and caregivers, the effect on them is barely an after thought. In fact in my case since the 24/7 caregiving came to an end two months ago these leaders in elder care were interested in my story, but no offers of assistance. But many comments of good luck.

comment

Please visit the ReACT web site.

As a contributing member, I can tell you this organization is working on to help employers and employees with elder caregiving challenges. ReACT is a coalition representing nearly 1 million employees through membership of more than 30 companies and non-profit organizations.

This coalition is growing but many employers are unaware of it and how it can help them and their valued employees with elder caregiving issues. It’s a great first step to help them understand the problems you are facing as an elder caregiver and employee.