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I work full-time and I am a full-time caregiver for my 86-year-old grandparents. Why doesn't my job understand I need flexible schedule?

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Thank you all for answering and understanding and just making stuff clear that i was already thinking of and researching. Just that my grandparents are the ones who raised me and i am a cancer so i do hold everything in and put on a "strong" face where i can do everything myself. I don't like to ask for help and expect certain people to step up. I do keep logs of accidents/sickness/proud moments that happen in our household. i let everyone in family know whats going on good and bad. I realized my manager that i've know for 11 years will throw me under the bus and not fight or help me. He's made it clear so now i work my 8hrs take a lunch and if production isn't running i completed my daily duties not going above and beyond for those type of people. i just wanted to make sure i waSN'T THINKING CRAZY.
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One thing that stands out is, the people you take care of are your grandparents not your parents. I imagine this might raise eyebrows. Yes, unfortunately, today's workplace is not family friendly when it comes to seniors. Looking into outside help is a must.
As far as the rest goes, business will always worry about business. Do what is best for you, do what you need to do and move on.
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Can you hire aides to help with the caregiving and can your grandparents pay for at least some of their care? I have to agree with those who suggested not asking for a more flexible schedule - save that for when there is a real emergency, and that can be part of caregiving.

Unfortunately there is a real discrimination in many workplaces against caregivers. Where I work, I can't even talk mention it, because employers know that the responsibilities will only increase. They are understanding with those who need time off for childcare, but not for eldercare, leaving early for a school play would be fine but not to take a parent to the doctor. I have a coworker who talks about potty training her son, and they see that as anywhere from cute to mildly annoying, but if I said anything about helping mom with her Depends, they would look at that as disgusting.  

It's an unfortunate reality in this system that, for all the lip service paid to family first, most workplaces aren't family friendly at all.  And I think it's even worse for men. You have to think of yourself too.
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I don't know how, but I missed the part where you explained what your work is like. I also managed to miss understanding that you are a man - yes? - working in a traditionally very male environment.

Please excuse my senior moment, there.

But. That, coupled with your eleven years' apparently content commitment to the job, would explain your employers' and co-workers' bafflement at your now needing support with fitting work around your grandparents' needs. I don't suppose there are many people at your company who are in the same boat? Are there even any with young children, who do their fair share of childcare?

How long have you been your grandparents' full-time caregiver, and how did that come about?
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Those you love are more important than the Capitalist wage overseer. Your employers have gotten used to abusing your time and talents. A good mechanic should be able to find a job more suited to his or her needs as they change. Your employers are not entitled to your loyalty. That shoukd go to the people you love.
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Playing Devil's Advocate: You are a mechanic. Since you work graveyard, I am going to assume it is in the trucking industry. Even if it isn't the principles still stand. When a family's income depends on their vehicle, they won't be understanding that you want time off to take care of Grandma and Grandpa. It doesn't get their bills paid. If the broken equipment (whatever you work on) isn't repaired in a timely manner, the customers will go elsewhere. Therefore your company will go bankrupt and no one will have a job.

Also, resentment from your fellow workers will spill over on you. Their world doesn't revolve around your family. I know, I resented it when my co-workers didn't come in on time and left me and others to do our own work and their work too. Especially since you said they are already shorthanded.

I suggest you follow some of the recommendations that others have posted. It isn't going to get easier and you need to take care of yourself too.
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Your employers don't understand, or don't care?

I have very mixed feelings about this. There are so many variables - what kind of organisation you work for, how long you've been there, whether they can afford to cut you some slack, how your "flexibility" might impact on your co-workers...

Obviously, just ordinarily humane people will be happy to accommodate reasonable requests from their employees who need support with short-term family commitments (as long as you've told them what they are, of course). But is that what you're asking for, actually?
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Black hole you make some good points. Taking care of one's life is priority despite being a caregiver. It is not worth risking everything, believe me.
I operate my own business and caregive at the same time. Last year, I took my first vacation in 15 years! It made me realize how important it is to take care of YOU! As people age things worsen. Get some help and share the load. Seniors centre, local agencies may be able to suggest some options. In the meantime, look after yourself.
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Don't talk about your predicament at work. If you already have, switch gears and zip it.

Since FMLA does not extend to care of grandparents, use your paid time off for necessary elder care. And I mean necessary. (Can you take PTO in hourly increments and/or half days?) And outsource whatever care you can. Basically, what everyone here has already said.

Don't become "that guy" at work. You will be secretly resented, openly resented, or both. It's not fair. But it's reality.

Do not position yourself as the person who gets cut when profits are down and/or they're looking to trim the fat. Or the person who gets poor performance evaluations due to unreliability (real or perceived), attendance issues and such.

In this dog-eat-dog world, your NEED for a reliable income and health insurance and steady contributions to Social Security & 401K will outlive your grandparent's "need" for intervention. (Next up: Your parents will start going down the tubes. But that's a whole different thread.)

I don't mean to sound cold. But it's crucial to be tight-lipped at work, and resourceful outside of work. Just because you are your elders' first choice for this-and-that doesn't mean you are the only choice. What starts out as flattery....or possibly playing to your sense of duty.....can become a trap that creates irreversible damage to your financial, mental and physical health.

Don't let your kind heart distract you from taking care of yourself first. Good luck to you. And keep coming back here for support. This gang is full of ideas you might not have thought of.... 🙂
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I would suggest adult day care and hiring a geriatric care manager to see how to lessen the load that you have to deal with.
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Good question Jacobsonbob..I assumed since he was caring for them that he had to step in because perhaps no one else would. Unfortunately, one must consider family dynamics. It is unbelievable how fast siblings can disappear in times such as this. I have two older brothers and a younger sister. My sister and I have moved my parents three times - each time without the help from the brothers. This includes selling their home, moving them into assisted living (twice) and then from assisted living to nursing. I am envious of the families that are able to do everything together - sadly our issues didn't come up until all the work did. It's ok. We have no regrets and will continue to do as we have been doing. Heaven knows I have a few feathers to earn back on my angel wings after my teenage years :)

Family dynamics play a huge piece in the caregiving puzzle. There can only be one point of contact and that point of contact keeps the others informed. Unfortunately others always have a better way to do something - I don't do a thing, however, without asking my dad first. As long as he is able to make the decisions he certainly will. My mother, on the other hand, has dementia and can make no decisions.
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I'm going to ask a question that's the "elephant in the room" although BarbBrooklyn alluded to it: Is there a generation in between (aka parents) that could be a part of the solution? Are there any siblings or other relatives that could provide some kind of help, whether "hands on" or financial?
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After all the years you have worked with no vacations or days off, by all means see what you can do to now get some of that time back. You, as a caregiver, need to take care of YOU as well so that you can care for your grandparents.

I would highly suggest either looking into some daytime companions to assist them with their daily activities so a) you can sleep and b) so they can not be dependent on you. There are many agencies out there. Check with your local Center on Aging and see what resources they might be able to offer.

Sure, others may have to work a little more because you are not there, but their time will come. Nothing prepares us for all of this. Take it HR and see what options might be available to you. They certainly can't fire you for taking the time you have available but please do look into other resources to help you. Good luck my friend! I feel your pain!
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Our society has not caught up with the fact that people are living to be a lot older and families are smaller and spread out more geographically so burden often falls on one or two people. I hope we will move toward laws that are more understanding of family caregivers.

At your grandparents' age, their needs are going to increase. It might be worthwhile to look at assisted living, adult day care, or other options where they can get supervision by more other people and maybe your responsibilities are managing their care and affairs rather than hands-on work. That is still a full-time job, but it's important that you get enough sleep, keep your job, etc.

Are you losing days from work because of trips to the ER/crises, or because of routine doctors' appointments, exhaustion, etc.? Company loyalty is a good thing. You've worked for the same place a long time; hopefully your employer will work with you. My guess is that if you are able to do specialized work, they'd rather keep you at less hours than lose you altogether.
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Well...see this from the other side.

I worked with a great lady..she had 3 kids. She got a divorce.

She needed a lot of time off for sick kids, doctors, school. Etc.

Meanwhile, I was working longer hours because the work still had to get done. Customers will not wait for a problem fix.

Why is it fair that I should work more because she must work less?

If you can get a "job share". Then you and someone else can each work part time and together get one full job covered. But, I cannot work more while you have the same job...and work less.
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Sal3rd09, it depends on the nature of the company and if you weren't there if the company could meet its bottom line or not.

I worked for a company where I could have used my Family Medical Leave Act to help my parents but thank goodness I didn't as I had to use the 3 month leave for myself when I had a serious medical condition. At least I knew my job would be there when I returned to work.

It also depends on your Manager/Supervisor. My Manager was a "Devil Wears Prada" type personality, she wanted me at work on time, yada, yada, yada.

It was tough when I used up all of my vacation and sick days... usually half days for doctor appointment as it usually took a half hour just to get my parents ready [can't find glasses, can't find cane, where's Dad's wallet, oops back to the bathroom, etc.] before even getting into the car, which was another story on its own... [sigh]

Sal, any chance your Grandparents could budget for private caregivers to give you a break? Or sell their home and use the equity for Independent Living or Assisted Living? Eventually you will need to start saying "no" or you will be doing this for the next 10 years. My folks lived into their mid-to-late 90's.
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So, just checked and FMLA does not appear to cover time off to care for grandparents, only parents and children.
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It sounds as though you need to re-evaluate a lot of stuff in your life.

1. How do you end up being the one caring for your grandparents?
2. Do they have financial resources they can use to pay for caregivers, sitters, transportation?
3. Are they paying room and board?
4. Will using their financial resources for their care ease any of your work issues?
5. What do you mean when you say that your job doesn't understand? Are they threatening to let you go, or are they just grumpy?
6. I think what you are talking about is FMLA (family medical leave act). It only applies in certain situations and to companies of a certain size. You need to do some research, or perhaps someone on here knows more about the details.
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no union its 50 emplyees and ive been there for 11 years. We work 24/6 and I'm graveyard mechanic and we are short on staff. its my fault for working 60hrs a week and never really taking vacations or always calling off now for appointments / regular daily home duties / sleep.
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How big a company do you work for? Do you belong to a union?
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