A survey recently done at Boston College of 2200 employees ages 17-81 found that the working caregiver caring for an elderly loved one had less flexibility in their work schedule than younger employees caring for children. The older caregiver was hesitant to ask for flexibility and time off when needed to care for an elder. Many felt they could not even talk about the problems and felt they had less job security than the younger employee. Why? Maybe it is because as young mothers and fathers caring for children there is a community based support system in place. There is school, church, sports, and other activities where you go and socialize with other parents. But there are little support systems in place for the older caregiver except for church, friends, or joining a caregiver support group. But many individuals providing eldercare don't feel they need a support group, or feel they don't have time for a support group. But with less community socialization it becomes even more critical for these individuals to join support groups. Without the help of support groups the individual has a greater risk of decreasing performance on the job, and decrease job security. The "burnout" an individual feels affects the care one provides to the elder. There is an increase chance of Elder Abuse due to the stress of caregiving.
The signs of caregiver burnout are not always easy to see. Often the individual just feels fatigued. This often leads to getting to work late, the inability to stay focused on task, the loss of interest in outside activities, and ultimately depression. According a study done by the National Family Caregivers Association, elder caregivers note depression as the number one feeling. All the more reason why employers need to start paying closer attention to employees between the ages of 40-65. Employers need to offer benefits for eldercare, such as flexible work schedules, consultations with Geriatric Care Managers, and education on how to care for elders. Employers can form caregiver support groups onsite for employees.
There is alot of talk but little action. Act now. If you are an employee speak up. Ask your employer for help. Be an advocate for elder caregiving. Tell your employer to contact our organization, Family Caregivers Network, we can help them focus on you, the elder caregiver.
Below is a link to an article in this month’s Beacon about Easter Seals’ Adult Day Center that is within Easter Seals Inter-Generational Center. The article really encapsulates the benefits of Adult Day Care and would be very educational for the Maryland community.
Many people think the only care available for disabled adult loved ones is administered by family caregivers, in-home aids or assisted living homes. Adult Day Care is the relatively unknown option that more families should consider because it can be less costly and less emotionally taxing than traditional routes of care.