As a caregiver, you may feel that the only alternative to best care for your elder is to quit your job. Before you quit, check out these 8 ways to help you balance your caregiving with your employment.
Quitting your job is a big step. You lose your income, your benefits and, with increased isolation, maybe some of your sanity too!
Before you take the step of quitting, check out these 8 ways to assist the working caregiver that might allow you to maintain your job and still care for your elder well.
- Start with a Conversation
- Get your Paperwork and Permission in order
- Establish an Organized Approach to Care
- Find a Financial Caregiver in the Family
- Get the Most from Medicare
- Look for Long Term Care insurance benefits
- Seek Support at Work
- Use Respite Care
1) Start with a Conversation.
Have you discussed with your elder what their wishes are? Our society does not encourage this type of conversation, but it is vital to developing a plan that works for all involved. Do the elder have a preference for who/what/when if they need more care? Have you and your elder done a budget for their care needs? Talk to your siblings or other family members about sharing the care and how they can help shoulder the caregiving requirements.
2) Get your Paperwork and Permission in order.
Make sure you have a fully-executed Power of Attorney (POA), both financial and medical, for your elder. You should also insure that your elder has an advance directive and, if needed, you have completed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.
Are you an authorized user on their bank account or investments? If your elder cannot perform their regular business affairs, you will need permission to step in and help them. With these documents, you can manage many tasks on your own time.
3) Establish an Organized Approach to Care
You don’t have to attend every medical appointment or every therapy session. You can manage much of this from a distance (even if that distance is your office) – if you are organized. Care providers need a copy of the POA, your contact info and a request from you for a visit summary to be faxed or emailed to you after your elder’s appointment. If you attend one appointment, you can introduce yourself to the care provider, explain that you will not attend every visit but would like to be involved and ask what works best for them to involve you.
You can arrange for transportation for your elder to/from care appointments with friends, neighbors, church members or the local RideShare/public transportation authority.
Insist on care conferences with care providers. You can have these over the phone, on a videoconference or via email. This keeps you in the loop of your elder’s care and allows you to know the expectations, hold the care providers and your elder accountable for their individually-agreed upon actions & goals.
Use a mail order pharmacy or a retail pharmacy reminder service with delivery for managing medication orders. Get an automated medication dispenser for your elder if they are having difficulty remembering their meds.
4) Find a Financial Caregiver in the Family.
Financial caregiving is taking care of bills, reviewing and purchasing insurance, doing the taxes and coordinating/performing home maintenance & repair. If one family member lives further away, ask them to be the financial caregiver. Most of these duties are easily managed online or via phone. They can even handle medication ordering too.
5) Get the Most from Medicare.
Know what Medicare coverage applies to your elder. What services are covered by their plan? Check out Medicare.gov for specifics; check with their medical insurance provider for unused services or coverage.
Check to see if your elder lives in an area where a PACE program is available. PACE stands for Programs for the All-inclusive Care of the Elderly. They provide “comprehensive medical and social services to certain frail, elderly people still living in the community.” PACE programs also offer transportation to/from care providers. Go to CMS.gov for more info.
Is your elder eligible for Hospice coverage? Hospice is usually thought of as the last few days/weeks of life but it can be offered to patients with a terminal condition with an estimated six-month life expectancy. Hospice coverage is much more comprehensive than standard Medicare coverage.
6) Look for Long-Term Care Insurance benefits.
Does your elder have Long-Term Care (LTC) insurance? Even if they need it for a short-term duration, it can help with paying for an increased level of care, including home healthcare assistance. Don’t be intimidated by the enormous tug-of-war that is often required to get LTC insurance to pay benefits. This is the time for true grit!
7) Seek Support at Work.
Talk to your supervisor or manager. Explain your caregiving responsibilities. Don’t ask for anything during this first conversation, if possible. Just lay out what your situation looks like and say you wanted them to be informed. If they know what you’re facing, they can offer their support.
When you do need their support and/or intervention, ask for the flexibility to work from home for periods of time, job share with someone in your department, alter/stagger your work hours or other idea that you might have for staying on the job. Check with your benefit plan to see if it includes respite care for your elder or assistance with care management via the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP). Your HR department may have a list of resources available to help with eldercare.
8) Use Respite Care.
A federal government program provides grants to states to maintain and publicize respite care programs at the state level. Respite care is temporary relief for the primary caregiver. Respite care can take place in the care recipient’s home, at an adult day program or in an assisted living/nursing care facility. Programs exist in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Here’s a link to find out more https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/respite-care/lifespan-respite-care-program.html
Adult day care programs are perfect for working caregivers. They offer programs for elders with physical limitations, dementia and other care needs. They are often very reasonably-priced, flexible on how many days your elder can attend and, some offer financial assistance for qualifying families.
Whatever your eldercare situation, you do have options. Investigate these 8 ways to avoid leaving your employment – before you get to a place where you have to quit to care for an elder. Now, pack a lunch and get started.