Your Second Job — Family Caregiving

Your Second Job — Family Caregiving

Careful young woman taking care of her sick senior father wrapped in plaid while giving him glass of water

{Read in 4 minutes}  Many of us look back fondly to the time we got our driver’s license in our teens and were able to drive ourselves to the movies, the mall, and friends’ houses. This was our first taste of freedom. 

To a senior, being able to drive represents that same sense of freedom and independence, an escape from the isolation of home, and the ability to get life-prolonging healthcare. Transportation enables socialization, working, and volunteering. All of these activities help seniors stay connected to their communities and give them a sense of purpose. That said, about 600,000 older adults stop driving each year, according to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Transportation can become one of the biggest responsibilities for family caregivers. They can spend more than five hours a week providing or arranging for transportation. Just in the last week, I drove my mother to two doctor appointments, to get a haircut, and to pick up groceries. I logged over 100 miles in a two-day period! These obligations make it difficult to devote time to my part-time job (which I took to help offset some of my parents’ expenses). It can be a real Catch-22. 

Some facts on the impact of caregiving responsibilities on employees:

•At any given time, more than 21% of the workforce is dealing with a caregiving situation.

•53% of caregivers admit their job performance is negatively affected and their health, finances, and quality of life suffer as a result of assuming this demanding role.

•Working females may suffer a particularly high level of economic hardship due to caregiving. 50% seek an additional job and 33% seek a job to cover caregiving costs.

Employers are also impacted due to lost productivity, job performance issues, and employees being unable to work more hours. Caregivers are more likely to leave the workforce altogether. If you are balancing employment with caregiving responsibilities, encourage your employer to adopt some of the following best practices: 

1. Create a supportive culture and encourage employees to make their supervisors aware of their caregiving responsibilities.

2. Provide education and training to supervisors and managers so they don’t discriminate against caregiver employees.

3. Adopt a policy to evaluate employees based on job performance, not time in the office.

4. Allow workplace flexibility which provides alternative work arrangements like flex-time, compressed work weeks, part-time, and telecommuting.

5. Offer eldercare support, resources, and referral services to caregiver employees to reduce their stress and improve moral and physical health.

6. Sponsor a support group or employee assistance plan to promote discussions about the challenges and emotional distress experienced by caregiver employees.

SilverSource offers “Rides to Wellness” which provides older residents free transportation to and from medical appointments in Stamford CT, removing cost as a barrier to healthcare. We have a Wheelchair-Accessible van, so we are able to serve both ambulatory clients and those requiring wheelchairs. 

If you or a loved one needs help, call SilverSource at 203.324.6584. Our expert staff can provide assistance, and connect you with the support you need.

Visit our website at www.silversource.org for more information on all of our services.

Founded in 1908, SilverSource is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides information, financial support, and other services that positively improve the quality of life for people over age 60 while serving as a resource center and referral source for older adults and their families in lower Fairfield County.

Meleisa Holek
Program Manager
MHolek@silversource.org
203.324.6584

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