You work hard. You have earned that next promotion. Suddenly, you’re thrown for a loop because your mom has been diagnosed with a chronic condition. She needs your help and a lot of it. The time you would normally devote to crushing it at work is now dedicated to caring for the person who’s cared for you most of your life. Now you’re missing work due to caregiving responsibility and that promotion you worked so hard for is in jeopardy. This can’t be happening! And yet it is–and you’re not alone.
The New York Times published a great article recently highlighting how caregivers must often sacrifice their careers to care for loved ones. The data shows this is all too real, and on a massive scale. The unfortunate truth is that there’s a high cost associated with caregiving that goes beyond just the direct costs of providing care and supporting quality of life needs.
Between missing work, declining job performance, and taking a leave of absence, income can fall substantially without having strong support. According to the National Family Caregiving Alliance:
- Among working caregivers caring for a family member or friend, 69% report having to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours or take an unpaid leave in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities.
- A reported 37% of caregivers quit their jobs or reduced their work hours to care for someone 50+ in 2007.
- Caregivers overall reported missing an average of 6.6 workdays per year. Approximately 17% of full-time workers missed 126 million workdays each year. 36% of caregivers missed 1-5 days per year while 30% reported missing 6 or more days in the past year.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Career Advancement
You want the best of both worlds. You want that promotion but you also want the time to care for mom. But how? Here are three steps you must take.
So how do you alleviate your burden so that you can keep up at work and take proper care of your own health and career? By assembling a team of family and close friends – the ones who are always saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do!” – and making it incredibly easy and natural to request help or volunteer to do something. The no-doubt-bottom-line best way to avoid these pitfalls is to share your caregiving responsibilities with family and friends.
Make a Care Plan
Your mom’s doctor is required to provide her (and you as a caregiver) with information (e.g., a care plan) to help her reach her optimal level of health following an appointment (or inpatient stay at a hospital). It’s your job to turn that care plan into action. Most of the time the care plan is on paper so using technology to automate the tasks is a good idea.
Use Technology for Communication
There are resources and technology available to increase communication with your Care Team. Find something that works for you so you all can share the responsibility. Everything doesn’t have to fall on your shoulders!
Investing your time in discovering what combination of services (and help from family and friends) can help in your situation will pay dividends–perhaps literally.