The Added Stress of Caregiving on the Workplace

Baby Boomers of the sandwich generation are expected to wear many hats: they are supposed to be attentive parents to their children, devoted caregivers to their parents, and successful workers in their chosen field. All of these roles are expected to coexist simultaneously without interfering with one and other, yet as anyone in the sandwich generation can attest, this is entirely impossible.

Being a caregiver means other aspects of your life are going to suffer, one of which being your occupation. Given the current state of the economy, most Americans cannot afford to step away from their job in order to provide full time care to their parents. Many caregivers also refrain from letting their employers know the extent of their caregiving obligations for fear of receiving less priority when it comes to projects. They do not want their careers to suffer due to their caregiving roles, and the lack of their company’s support only puts more stress on their plate.

Unfortunately the work/caregiver dilemma is only going to grow more stressful as parents live longer, employees work longer, and smaller families have fewer siblings to pitch in. According to a report by the

MetLife Mature Market Institute, the percentage of people 50 and older taking care of their parents has tripled since 1994.

So while it appears the number of those taking on the responsibility of caregiver has risen, this subset of caregivers remains apprehensive about sharing their concerns with their supervisors. Common fears among working caregivers include feeling as though their boss will view them as lacking commitment and their end of the year review will suffer as a result. Caregivers do not want their coworkers or boss looking down on them for having to pick up their slack, and they also fear that discussing their home life is not professional.

Between work, children and elders in poor health, it is hard to keep your brain fully functional in each area. The mind often wanders when you’re at work to your children or sick parent, and when you are with your family, caregivers find themselves wondering how they will ever finish their work not to mention the added financial stress associated with caregiving. Out-of-pocket costs for caregivers is $5,500 per year on average which includes food, travel, transportation and medications.

Caregivers can only exist for so long by burning the wick at both ends. All caregivers need respite, even in the workplace. While caregivers may feel guilty asking for time off when emergency strikes their loved ones, the truth of the matter is companies spend more on recruiting, hiring and training new employees than they do making sure their current ones are satisfied. Caregivers who feel they are supported in the workplace in their caregiving role also have lower health care costs due to being less stressed. Workers should not feel defeated by their caregiver role, nor should they feel guilty about disclosing their situation to their bosses. In the end it will save both parties a lot of stress and anxiety.

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