Dr. Amy: Making Decisions About Work

I know that many of you are trying to balance work and caregiving, and need to make decisions that make your life work. Often I hear of the difficulties people experience in trying to figure out how to keep their jobs going while juggling the needs of their loved ones at home.

There is consensus around one point: it is best to share your situation with your employer and figure out together how to manage your work and home responsibilities. Otherwise, your employer and fellow staff members may think that you don’t care enough about the job on the days when you inevitably must be late or you are distracted in your work due to problems at home.
When you do let them know, you may be surprised by their supportive attitude and willingness to help when they know what you are doing for your loved one at home and that you are committed to your job.

One member told us that her company wanted her to use her three-month medical leave when she told them about her husband’s cancer diagnosis. She thought it through and realized that she would rather continue working while her husband was still functioning pretty well. She wanted to save that leave time until later, when her husband was closer to the end and would need her full time.

Another woman had a high power job that involved lots of overtime and travel. When her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she realized that her priorities would need to shift. She needed the flexibility to deal with her mother’s issues as they came up. Her high-powered job was not going to allow her to drop everything and run home to talk her mom into wearing her oxygen mask.

So she began interviewing for a new job, telling prospective employers up front that her primary concern at this point in time was her mom. She found a less-pressured job that allowed her to work from home. There was also less travel, and she could make it home quickly in case of an emergency.

Nobody said that caregiving is easy. To do it well means looking at your own lifestyle and work to determine what is right for you and your loved one. Each caregiver needs to step back and take time to make the decisions that will make their lives and the lives of their loved ones work as well as possible.
- Dr. Amy


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