I want to take a minute to recognize the 40 million Americans who perform a great labor of love every day: family caregivers. Thanks to their tireless efforts, parents, spouses, and other loved ones are able to remain at home — where they want to be. Day after day, these unsung heroes take on huge responsibilities that can be overwhelming, stressful and exhausting.
En español | Think for a moment how busy and chaotic everyday life can be: juggling careers, kids, finances and more. Now imagine also caring for a parent, spouse or child with a disability, maybe even around the clock. Every day about 40 million Americans — myself included — care for our loved ones so they can live independently at home and in their communities, where they want to be.
The phone rang one day when I was at work. It was my mom. “Come right away, Elaine, we need you,” she said. Mom had just driven Pop to the emergency room. I knew Pop must have been very sick, because Mom hadn’t driven a car in years.
A wider swath of Americans, from millennials to those ages 75-plus, are taking on the role of family caregiver for a loved one. But the burdens remain the same — long hours, no pay, heavy stress — and most are juggling caregiving with paid jobs, according to a new study from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.
Family caregivers in the U.S. spend an estimated 30 billion hours per year caring for older family and friends. That’s about $522 billion in care, according to a new Rand Corp. study, as measured by valuing the time caregivers have sacrificed in order to be able to provide care.
While traveling to Erie, Pa., for a town meeting on family caregiving, I was reflecting on my family roots. A little more than 100 years ago, my Lithuanian grandparents immigrated to America and made Shenandoah, Pa., their first hometown. My grandfather worked in the coal mines and my grandmother, fluent in six languages, worked various jobs while raising five children - one of whom was my mom. My grandparents taught me about hard work and perseverance, and my parents taught me all I'd ever need to know about unconditional love and family caregiving.
My sisters and I are long-distance caregivers for our 92-year old mom. We have already experienced this profound caregiving journey, having cared for our dad for nearly seven years before he died at age 94. We know how overwhelming and stressful it can be to juggle work and caregiving responsibilities.
Here we go again. More black-and-white confirmation that elder responsibilities often negatively impact both employees and companies. A new fact sheet out from the AARP Public Policy Institute, in chilling percentages, shows the enormity of the issue and the need to implement or enhance workplace programs.
Working caregivers, have you heard that tone of voice from your workplace manager? You know the one where it sounds like he's perpetually disappointed in you? You're not imagining it. It's real, or so says a new report by AARP.
Last week the Department of Labor (DOL) released a guide on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that working family caregivers may find invaluable. The step-by-step, easy-to-read resource outlines who is eligible for FMLA, how employees can apply for and take leave and their rights to keep their job when they're ready to return to work.
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