Every day in Northwest Indiana, thousands of working women face the same difficult choice: to be a good child or a good employee. They share that plight with millions of working women, and men, across the country.
More than 34 million Americans are caring for an aging loved one, and many are doing so while working full time. Balancing work and caregiving can be stressful, especially for working daughters. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, on average, working women spend almost twice as much time caring for aging loved ones than their male counterparts.
A recent survey conducted by Home Instead Inc. found that 91 percent of female caregivers have needed to take action at work to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities. They turn down promotions, pause their careers or use their vacation time to care for their loved ones. The career sacrifices combined with the hours of caregiving increase the stress and strain on working caregivers.
A lack of support at work can hurt them and further increase stress. The Home Instead survey found a quarter (25 percent) of working daughters believed there were negative feelings at work about their situation and 23 percent found their supervisor to be unsympathetic.
This trend could continue, with the number of Americans 65 and older projected to rise to more than 98 million by 2060 from 46 million in 2016.
To help these working caregivers, Home Instead Senior Care serving Merrillville and surrounding communities launched a free community program called Daughters in the Workplace. The program offers resources to educate caregivers about their options at work and home. There are tips to help caregivers feel more comfortable talking with their employers and ideas to help balance the roles as daughter and employee, such as:
- Be realistic about how much you can do yourself.
- Be honest with yourself and your employer about what you need.
- Think creatively to offer solutions that will help you and your employer.
- Get plenty of rest so you can get more done and are increasingly confident in handling daily challenges.
- Take one day at a time. Caring for an older adult is an unpredictable job and one that often calls for a measured approach to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Arrange for help, including any care services your company might offer through an Employee Assistance Program. Your Area Agency on Aging (n4a.org) may know of community resources, and you can contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office (HomeInstead.com) to learn about flexible professional caregiving that could help you.
There are also elements in the Daughters in the Workplace program for employers to help them better understand employees’ needs as they care for aging loved ones and suggest ways to offer important support.
To explore the free resources available through the Daughters in the Workplace program, visit DaughtersintheWorkplace.com.
Sandi Haywood owns the Merrillville office of Home Instead Senior Care, a franchise operation that provides home health care and support services for seniors. Contact her at 219-649-7629 or visit homeinstead.com/501/about-us/home-instead-team.