Secrets To Keeping Your Job When You are Caregiving At Home – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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Are you one of the nearly 20% of Americans who works at a job while caring for a loved one at home? Caregiving for a loved one is stressful enough, but trying to manage a full or even part-time job simultaneously can be downright grueling. Here are five tips on how to balance caregiving while keeping your employer happy.

1.  Don’t expect your employer to anticipate what’s going on. While most employers know what to expect when an employee has a new baby, they have no idea how to support an employee who is caregiving. When an employee becomes a parent, maternity, and even more recently even paternity, leave is the norm. Typically there is a workplace plan in place because this type of leave is expected. Many bosses, even sensitive ones, are less experienced in anticipating the countless challenges caregivers of older loved ones face.

2.  Make an appointment with Human Resources.  What support can they offer? Many organizations are required to offer Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) but are there other benefits available through the workplace health insurance plan or an employee assistance program? Perhaps your employer would be open to flexible hours, telecommuting, an abbreviated work week or longer sabbatical if you need more time off than FMLA can provide.

3.  Keep communicating with your employer. If your manager agrees to change your work duties or schedule to accommodate your caregiving, make sure you honor this agreement fully. Keep your employer abreast if you are not going to be able to hold up your end of the deal for any reason. Document your conversations so you can refer back to them if there is ever a problem on either end.

4.  Don’t quit your job before thinking it through. Many caregivers take early retirement or quit their job entirely to take care of an older loved one. While this might be the right decision for you and your family, it is important to seriously consider the financial and emotional consequences. It may be much more cost-effective in the long term for you to keep working but hire help for your loved one.

5.  Seek help outside the office. While it’s helpful if your employer understands your caregiving challenges, you will likely benefit from support outside the workplace. While your coworkers and boss may be accommodating you, they should not be a dumping ground for all your stress.   Consider whether you could use the assistance of a non-profit that specializes in your loved one’s health issue.  Some examples include the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org); American Heart Association (www.heart.org); American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) and the Anxiety & Depression Association of American (www.adaa.org).

 

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

What Kind of Team Member Do You Want To Be? – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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If you are a working caregiver, you probably are experiencing a significant overload of stress.  How do you talk to your boss about it?  What resources are available to help you?

If you are an executive or a manager, you will have staff who are caregiving for sick or disabled loved ones at home.  Don’t you want to be the boss who they can approach and work out a reasonable plan so staff can remain productive at work while meeting their family obligations?

Check out Jennifer FitzPatrick on ABC’s Good Morning Washington.  She discusses how to manage career and caregiving; reducing caregiver stress; and how companies who support working caregivers can increase employee loyalty:

http://wjla.com/features/good-morning-washington/how-to-avoid-caregiver-burnout

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

Three Ways Working Caregivers Can Improve Their Mental Health On A Budget – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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Working caregivers helping out sick or disabled loved ones are often trying to balance far too much. Career, business travel, kids, and running a household are already overwhelming. But when you add caregiving to an already maxed out schedule, a working caregiver’s life can seem utterly unmanageable. One of the best ways to get back into balance is to take better care of your mental health. But many working caregivers are on a tight budget due to paying for home care, assisted living or other services for their sick loved ones. Here are three ways working caregivers can tend to their mental health on a budget:

1. See if your employee benefits offer employee assistance sessions. Sometimes the first few sessions are totally free and don’t require a co-pay.

2. Seek a free or low cost mental health clinic. Many mental health clinics exist across the United States and they have sliding scale or even free counseling services. Often they utilize students working on masters and doctoral degrees in psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy or other relevant degrees. While you may not get the most experienced therapist in the world, you will receive help from someone who has some training and certainly supervision by a licensed professional.

3. Consider a support group. They exist to offer support for nearly anything you may be struggling with. There are thousands of support groups available throughout the country that specifically help caregivers. But there are some support groups that specialize in hoarding, depression, anxiety, diabetes, grief, etc. They are almost always free, exist in pretty much every community and are typically led by a qualified trained professional.

 

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

What Have You Done For Your Working Caregivers Lately? By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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One of the biggest challenges facing workplaces today is the increasing number of employees caring for an older loved one. According to Gallup, 1 of every 6 employees is a caregiver. And it’s not just the Baby Boomers at work who are caregiving.  AARP reports that 25% of all caregivers are Millennials.

Many studies suggest that caregivers have more physical and mental health problems as well as increased mortality rates if they don’t have proper support to prevent burnout. In response to this issue, savvy organizations offer employee wellness programs because they are a win-win. The employer wins because they get to keep good employees and prevent sick days, premature retirement and resignations. The win for the working caregiver is obvious—more support and less burnout.

If your organization offers services to help working caregivers, do they know about them? Has management and Human Resources made an outreach effort lately? If not, can Jenerations help you plan how to do this? For more ideas on how to support working caregivers at your organization, check out www.jenerationshealth.com.

 

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

Leading Your Caregiving Crew: How to Better Communicate With Friends & Family About What You & Your Loved One Need – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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If you have a career and are also juggling care for an older or sick loved one, your stress level is likely at an all-time high.  Throughout Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, I encourage stressed working caregivers in the primary caregiver role to view themselves as managers.  Family, friends and paid help supporting you are your caregiving team (much like a staff).  But do you know how to get what you need from your team once they are assembled?  Communicate Like A Leader by Dianna Booher can help.

Because Communicate Like A Leader is a business book, it effortlessly resonates with caregivers who also have careers.  Here are three of Booher’s business tips that can be applied to caregiving:

  1. Coach rather than critique.  Booher discusses how in business we can be quick to criticize rather than coach someone.  The same happens all the time in caregiving.  Stressed-out working caregivers frequently push their caregiving team members away with harsh criticism.  Communicate Like A Leader’s coaching tips will help you empower your caregiving team.
  2. Booher cautions against hoarding information in the workplace.  This is also a major problem for working caregivers.  Working caregivers are often so harried they neglect to share information that will help their crew members more effectively participate in the caregiving process.  For example, give regular updates about changes in medication, treatment plan and diagnoses. Share as much as you are able to with your caregiving team and encourage them to do the same with you.
  3. Embrace the humor. While caregiving can be simultaneously heartbreaking and exasperating, there are moments of levity.   Your Mom with Alzheimer’s disease just hit on your granddaughter’s boyfriend.  Your father-in-law who fell tells you he is “bored” while you wait with him in the hospital emergency department (while you are missing a mandatory meeting at work).   Acknowledging and sharing the humor of such moments can save your sanity.

Particularly for working primary caregivers, embracing business strategies can help streamline the caregiving process, reducing burnout for all.  Communicate Like A Leader is just the business book that can help you do that.

To order Communicate Like A Leader, click here.

 

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.