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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Balancing Work and Caregiving

As woman, I'm adept at taking care of others -- my spouse, my kids, friends, my dog, my grandmother. However, in the last few months, I have been totally unprepared for the time demands of taking care of an ill parent.
During the last few months, my mother has been in and out of hospitals as doctors struggle to determine whether she has Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia. The phone calls from my stepfather come at all hours as he struggles to care for her in their home. This has taken a toll on my work and family life and somedays, I am overwhelmed by the calls I must make to doctors and insurance companies. I now understand the balancing act that so many in the sandwich generation are facing.
It's conservatively estimated that America's family caregivers total between 35-40 million, a number that is expected to rise to 50 million by the year 2020. I finally understand the frustration of employees I have written about who are handling caregiving duties and trying to hold jobs. I am surprised that more workplaces aren't offering support of some sort to their employee caregivers.
So far, I have found little information at work or in the community to guide me. The studies show the chronic stress and anxiety associated with caregiving takes its toll in the workplace and at home. Unfortunatley, I now can can attest to that.


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