Have you had to take days off from work due to your caregiving responsibilities? Are you considering retiring early, going part-time or taking a hiatus from the workforce so that you can be more available to take care of your loved one? If so, you are far from alone.
Family caregivers – such as those caring for an elderly parent, a special needs child or a loved one facing a serious illness – are often faced with these difficult decisions when the daily demands of caregiving start to become too much. According to a major study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, some working caregivers reported having to take a leave of absence (17 percent), shift from full-time to part-time work (10 percent), quit work entirely (6 percent), lose job benefits (5 percent), turn down a promotion (4 percent) or choose early retirement (3 percent).
What are the long-term repercussions of these missed work days? They might be more significant than you think. American businesses lose between $11 billion and $29 billion a year in reduced productivity from working caregivers, according to a recent MetLife study. And the costs for you as a caregiver are even steeper. The same study found that the lost wages/benefits for the average female caregiver – including Social Security and pension payments – totaled an estimated $324,044. For all 10 million caregivers age 50 and over who are caring for a parent, the estimated cost of lost wages/benefits came to staggering $3 trillion.
One way to help prevent missed days and decreased workforce participation is to ensure you have a backup when something happens with your loved one during the work week. How do you do that? The first step is downloading and joining Care3 and building a team of family members and close friends who care about your loved one.
We call this care-sharing.
These are the folks who you know want to help out and have expressed as much. Get them all connected via our iPhone app and discover how simple it is to get help using the simple behavior of text messages, even at the last minute. They’ll all get the message instantly, and by the sheer virtue of having multiple people on your team, it increases the chances that someone is available to pitch in.
As an example, let’s suppose your mother – who lives with you and doesn’t drive – fell down this morning. She says she’s fine, but you’re concerned that something’s wrong or that she might have broken something. Now, instead of your only option being to take a vacation/PTO day, you have the ability to put out a request for help and see if there are any team members available to take your mother to the doctor or ER. Within minutes, you get notified that your retired neighbor Millie, who is close with your family, has volunteered. Now you can relax knowing that your mother will get checked out and that you won’t have to reschedule your big presentation at work. Other team members – including your siblings and cousins – can communicate their relief and gratitude to Millie by sending “Thanks”. And, finally, Millie will feel appreciated and valued due to all those “Thanks” piling up.
Care-sharing. It’s a win-win for you, your family and friends, and your career.