Women sacrifice to balance work, caregiving

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There are now more people age 65 and older than there are children under 15 years of age, with about 10,000 people turning 65 every day.

In 2011, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index stated that caregiving cost America $25.2 billion in lost productivity. Who are the working family caregivers and what challenges do they face? Two-thirds of all caregivers are female.

One in four working women are spending an average of 13.8 hours a week as caregivers of older adults.

The statistics show that, in addition to their employment, 50 percent are financially supporting an adult child, 16 percent regularly care for grandchildren and one in four has a child under the age of 18. On average, each caregiver has been maintaining that workload for six years.

Female caregivers especially continue to make sacrifices at home and in the workplace. Many report that career growth has suffered, and they believe there is a stigma associated with taking time off to care for a senior, unlike taking time off to care for a child.

One out of every 11 has been told that her job is in jeopardy, and 13 percent have been passed over for a promotion or a raise. These women feel their employers are unsympathetic when it comes to balancing work and caregiving.

Unfortunately, caregiving rarely becomes easier. The stress of that responsibility permeates into all aspects of life.

What accommodations have been made to balance being a caregiver and an employee? The most common change is using paid time off. Other solutions include switching from full to part-time, avoiding certain responsibilities and turning down promotions.

Nearly 50 percent said they feel they have to choose between being a good employee and a good daughter. A quarter of those who are self-employed say their decision to work for themselves was in order to make caregiving easier.

Being realistic about your workload as a caregiver, getting enough rest and staying organized is important. It can be empowering to practice honesty with yourself and your employer while thinking creatively and exploring options.

Try to be flexible, and remember that it is possible to arrange respite help through employee assistance programs, other family members or a home care agency.

For more information, visit www.DaughtersintheWorkplace.com.

Rachel Carson is the owner of Home Instead Senior Care serving The Lowcountry since 1997.

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