You won't always be a family caregiver. At some point, you may choose to ramp up your work hours, change jobs or careers or do meaningful volunteering. You might be able to take the skills you've gained from caregiving.
You're probably thinking, "What am I qualified to do after being a caregiver?" You now know something about the health care system. Good! One of the fastest growing fields is health care. You might become a patient advocate or patient navigator, medical claims assistant, personal and home health care aide, intake coordinator or program coordinator. If you like being a caregiver, explore being a teacher's aide, using your knowledge and skill set as a mentor or tutor, working for a nonprofit or even walking dogs.
Or, consider being a senior move manager, or professional organizer. You probably have good managerial skills from your caregiving role. Did you coordinate a team of people (doctors, nurses, relatives, professional caregivers) and help craft and implement a care plan? Were you a project manager and/or strategic planner, overseeing and planning your parent's/relative's care? Did you pay bills, ferry Mom or Dad to appointments and attend to their other needs? You'd make a natural personal assistant.
Here are thoughts and resources for moving forward:
- Think about what you want to do next. Have you always wanted to own a business? What are you good at? What tasks as a caregiver could you build on or highlight?
- Are your skills current? Can you take a class? If you're strapped for time, is it offered online? An evening continuing education course? Even if it's too soon to rev up, research where to go for retraining, to beef up your computer skills, renew your license, or attend a certification or degree program. The Community College Plus 50 Initiative from the American Association of Community Colleges offers courses and programs nationwide to train and retrain students age 50-plus in a variety of areas, including volunteer, civic and service. Is there a local association you might join?
- Network. Talk to others and get suggestions from them. Find out if there's a local association or group that would be helpful, go to their websites to learn what they're doing, consider joining and emailing or meeting with members. Go on LinkedIn to connect with people in the industry.
- Consider an "encore career." It's where those age 50-plus, usually retired, work part-time in a make-a-difference job, often nonprofit or government. The Encore Career Handbook by Marci Alboher gives a comprehensive view of encore careers, resources and job options. You can also go to www.encore.org.
- Not sure what your next act will be? New to the book market is career coach Nancy Collamer's Second-Act Careers: 50 Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement.
Photo by Bahman Farzad courtesy of Creative Commons