Can you picture this? Just the thought of it sends chills up my spine! But that’s exactly what a caregiver recently expressed to me. Trying to juggle a demanding job, her mother’s stubborn behavior about accepting help, complicated family situations, and keeping her marriage in tact through this all was taking it’s toll. As she described what if felt like, I could picture her words, and thinking about so many of the other caregivers I help who feel this exact same way.
Caregivers are fragile. They are so much more vulnerable to the stresses of life – because they are juggling so much more than most of us. Often they do so silently – especially at work. When I ask caregivers what they tell people when asked if they need help – guess what they say? I’m fine! They aren’t fine, but it’s easier than breaking down at the water cooler or in the middle of a meeting!
Employers who are not facing the reality that at least one in four of their employees is caring for aging adult are not being realistic. It is in fact a silent crisis: the working caregiver. Few companies realize the impact that these working caregivers have on their bottom line. The numbers of caregivers in the workforce has increased three fold in the last five years, and this number is not going to go down.
Caregivers need guidance, resources and support. For the working caregiver, this is especially challenging, because their hours off work are often spent putting out fires and keeping up with the demands of caring for their loved one. When employers offer education and tools for these employees, they will ultimately be helping themselves by increasing productivity, reducing sick days and even helping those employees who have to take a leave of absence or quit their jobs entirely to help their loved one.
Let’s all keep that Waterford crystal from shattering.