Work Family Conflict for Caregivers – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 59 October 7, 2020. On this caregiver radio program, Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, talks about Work Family Conflict and caregiver stress. Guest Dr. Cate O’Brien from the Mather Institute shares research about emotional labor for Care Staff Working in Senior Living Communities. Work and family conflict can result in caregiver stress and burnout if not addressed by individuals and the workplace.
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Work Family Conflict for Caregivers and Caregiver Stress
00:04 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
Work Family Conflict and How to Ask for Help
00:47 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and loved ones, all tied together with a little bit of humor and laughter, essential to being a caregiver. The topic for this caregiving radio program is work, family conflict, which results in caregiver stress and burnout. How many of you caregivers feel stressed, and how many of you feel burned out? This includes adult children in their 20s who are helping parents in their 50s who are considered to be aging. Then we might have a working spouse who may be caring for a retired or a sick spouse. All the way to elderly adult children in their 70s who still might be working and caring for older parents in their 90s or even up to 100 years old. Each age group of caregivers is at a different life stage, building a career, raising children, planning for retirement, or actually being retired. Besides the idea of raising children and the time devoted to child care, we don’t talk a lot about caregiving. Children don’t talk about it with their parents. Even when we become young adults, we’re still not talking about the possibility of becoming a caregiver for our aging parents.
02:29 Pamela D. Wilson: How do we miss this? Is it that we hope that it’s not going to happen? Is it that we hope that we can avoid becoming a caregiver? The surprising aspect about caregiving is that adult children helping elderly parents might not see themselves as a caregiver. Adult children might be performing little tasks like help around the house—a little bit of grocery shopping, some errands. Those activities aren’t really identified as caregiving until a health issue happens, and somebody says to an adult child, “Oh, you’re a caregiver for your parent.” Even then, the adult child may say, “Oh no, no, no, no. I’m only helping out.” This lack of self-identification as a caregiver results in two concerns. The first concern is that when something serious does happen, like a heart attack or a stroke, this, “Oh, no, no, no, no, I’m simply helping out,” adult child is shocked about becoming a full-blown caregiver overnight. The train wreck heart attack or stroke event takes us past that conversation that we could have had earlier with elderly parents about when you need care, what do you want?
03:42 Pamela D. Wilson: The second concern that relates to work-family conflict and the lack of caregiver support from the workplace is the “I’m simply helping out,” adult child, who all of a sudden is coming in late to work, leaving early, or taking time off to care for elderly parents. Workplaces support employees having and raising children, but few companies yet have programs for working caregivers, caring for elderly parents. This double standard of, “It’s okay to talk about children in the workplace,” but not elderly care, results in work family conflict, caregiver stress, and burnout. Working caregivers of the professional types, CNAs, and care staff working for home health companies and in senior living communities might be caring for an elderly parent and caring for elderly in the care communities. These working caregivers are known as double-duty or triple-duty caregivers. Care staff may be raising children, caring for elderly parents or a spouse, and caring for the elderly during their working hours.
04:48 Pamela D. Wilson: The idea of 24/7 caregiving applies to family and professional caregivers, which brings me to share information about the guest for the health and wellness segment of this program. Joining us in the second and third segments is Dr. Cate O’Brien. She is the assistant vice president and director of the Mather Institute. In addition to overseeing translational research and other initiatives within the Institute, Dr. O’Brien is responsible for developing collaborative research partnerships with the universities and professionals in the field of aging. She serves as managing editor for Seniors Housing and Care Journal. It’s a peer-reviewed publication focusing on applied research and best practices in the fields of senior housing and long-term care. Recent research topics include wellness in residents of life plan communities and senior living workforce development.
05:44 Pamela D. Wilson: She’ll share with us information from the Mather Institute study called, May I Help You: Engagement and Emotional Labor in Frontline Senior Living Employees. Let’s return to talk about work family conflict that results in caregiver stress and burnout. I want to share some research that will lead us to talk about ten areas of caregiving that add to work family conflict, caregiver stress, and burnout. According to research by Scott Schieman, 70% of men and women report interference between work and non-work activities. Seventy percent—that’s a lot. Let’s relate these to three stages of family caregiving. The first is child care that can result in work family conflict. Most workplaces have family care programs that include maternity or paternity leave, and they recognize that working parents are coordinating and arranging childcare, school, and after school activities. The second category of caregiving that results in work family conflict is adult care. The traditional definition of adult care is disability care. It’s a term that includes care services for adults aged 18 to 64 who might have a disability or a chronic illness. These working caregivers may be caring for a brother or a sister, or even a parent. Work family conflict and caregiver stress and burnout for adult care caregivers pose many challenges.
07:20 Pamela D. Wilson: I want to talk to caregivers in their 20s and 30s who are bearing a significant amount of responsibility. Sometimes they’re stressed about caring for parents or even grandparents when there are no other family members available or willing to provide care. Work family conflict for these caregivers is significant. Because few workplaces talk about family caregiver issues, most caregivers, especially younger caregivers, are hesitant to speak to supervisors or managers about care responsibilities. Younger caregivers often feel that they don’t have a choice but to give up employment to become that 24/7 caregiver. A similar situation exists with the third type of caregiving that we’ll call elder care for people 65 and over. These adult children caregivers who may be young—but they also could be older, in their 50s and 60s—many of them think of giving up employment to become a caregiver. The long-term effects of this work family conflict decision are rarely considered or discussed within families. Caregiver stress and burnout result because the time frame of being a caregiver. It’s like a marathon. It’s not a sprint. Caregiving, time, and effort increases with the age of elderly parents and their care needs.
08:41 Pamela D. Wilson: We’ll talk about ten areas of caregiving that result in work family conflict and caregiver stress and burnout in the second half of the radio program. Up next is Dr. Cate O’Brien, assistant vice president and director of the Mather Institute. She’s going to share research about care staff. We’re off to a break. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation radio show live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
11:33 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio show for caregivers and aging adults. Live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Joining us is Dr. Cate O’Brien, assistant vice president and director of the Mather Institute. Dr. O’Brien, thank you for joining us.
11:52 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Thank you, my pleasure.
11:54 Pamela D. Wilson: You have a study called, May I Help You, and it talks about customer service in senior living communities, and it uses a term called emotional labor, what does that mean?
12:06 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Yeah. So emotional labor refers to the process of managing emotional expressions, so how you show your feelings with others as part of one’s professional work role. So although people may experience similar challenges and certainly the need to manage their feelings in their personal life, the term emotional labor is meant to specifically refer to the workforce. It’s most commonly experienced in customer-service-oriented jobs. Definitely including senior living, but also in really any kind of job where you’re providing that direct service to others, and in those types of jobs, inevitably, there are going to be instances where there are customers who aren’t happy with either the service or the organization itself—and they direct that feeling of dissatisfaction towards the employee.
13:03 Dr. Cate O’Brien: And in some cases, the customer may express those feelings pretty harshly, and I think anyone who’s worked in a customer service-oriented position could probably remember times like that. But even in those instances, most organizations reasonably expect the employee to respond in a positive manner. And that’s very much a part of customer service regardless of how they may personally be feeling in the moment, and that can be hard, and the employee can be frustrated. They may feel the situation is beyond their control, and sometimes it is. But at the same time, most employees recognize the need to act in a positive manner. So emotional labor is really that experience of providing service with a smile. Even when you don’t necessarily feel like it.
13:56 Pamela D. Wilson: And let’s talk about your comment, service with a smile. The research study mentions this idea of surface acting. So how does that look between customer service employees who work in communities and the older adults who are the residents?
14:12 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Yes. So surface acting is one way that employees deal with emotional labor, and it’s where you’re in a frustrating situation, and you basically have to fake that smile. So, in other words, with surface acting, employees are dealing with their negative emotions by hiding them because they know it’s their job to present that positive response and to come up with a solution-oriented approach. And so it means that an employee isn’t necessarily able to feel the way they act. So if we want to think about a concrete example, this may be an employee is working in a fitness center, for example, and is approached at the end of a long day by a resident who’s upset that a new exercise program that they wanted to take is only being offered in the morning, but not in the afternoon, when it can work better for them. Maybe the employee has actually worked really hard to find the best time for most people. It doesn’t feel like the resident understands that. And so they may want to tell them, “sorry, that’s just the way it is.” But instead, they just put on the smile and say they did their best, and they’ll try to schedule more in the afternoon in the future. So that’s essentially surface acting. It is just putting on the smile without regard to your own feelings.
15:50 Pamela D. Wilson: And with that, that’s got to feel—if it was me—I would feel uncomfortable. So what are the internal struggles for this customer service staff who feel like, to your point, they have to act one way, but inside they feel differently? How does that affect them and how they feel about their job?
16:08 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Yes. Well, I think it depends in part on how frequent those types of interactions are. If it happens once in a blue moon, then I think, like with most things, someone might just be able to shrug it off. But if it’s something that happens every day—throughout the day—it can really take a lot of emotional effort and be challenging for an employee. So, for example, there’s some studies with flight attendants who are in that position where they’re dealing often with people who have been delayed and are frustrated because they missed their flights. It’s kind of the nature of that business. And so they’ve done a lot of work in that industry dealing with emotional labor, because they know that it can cause job performance issues, and also for the employee. Getting back to your question, stress, burnout, and research has even shown that if employees aren’t effectively dealing with this, then it can even cause problems at home, like insomnia, increased alcohol consumption, increased risk of cancer even.
17:19 Pamela D. Wilson: Did the study show anything about how job satisfaction relates to turnover in these difficult positions?
17:28 Dr. Cate O’Brien: So this study, in particular, didn’t show—didn’t look at that relationship. But we do know that job satisfaction is really important in relation to turnover, and so definitely how the employee is able to manage these types of situations and the stress that it may or may not cause can affect the job satisfaction. Which then can increase or decrease turnover.
18:03 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay. And I’m going to start with a question. We may have to finish it after the break, but there was another term in your research study, and it was called deep acting. So that’s a little different from surface acting. Can you start explaining how someone would act if they were deep acting and how that would affect that relationship?
18:26 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Right, yeah. So surface acting is one way, deep acting is another way people might deal with that emotional challenge. And in contrast…
18:34 Pamela D. Wilson: And if you can hold that thought, we do have to head out to a break, I’m sorry.
18:38 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Sure.
18:38 Pamela D. Wilson: Listeners, we are going to continue this conversation with Dr. Cate O’Brien. We’re going to continue to answer the question of deep acting after this break coming up. You can listen to this podcast of this radio show next week. It’ll be on my website. All the show transcripts are there. You go to www.PamelaDWilson.com, look for the media tab, and look for The Caring Generation radio show. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.
21:27 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to continue our conversation with Dr. Cate O’Brien from the Matter Institute. Dr. O’Brien, let’s continue our discussion about deep acting. Can you explain and give examples of that?
21:47 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Sure, yes. So, in contrast to surface acting, where we talked about how an employee is essentially kind of faking it—putting on a smile. Deep acting involves actually changing your feelings to match how you’re displaying those feelings to—well, in senior living—it would be to the residents. So if you’re feeling frustrated, but you know you need to present yourself as positive and smiling, deep acting means trying to actually change your feelings to be positive and smiling, and so I think that begs the question. Well, how do you do that? Well, one way is to understand that if the resident is frustrated with the lack of an exercise program, for example, that there may be something going on in their life that may make them frustrated. May have nothing to do with you, so that might help not to take it personally. So that’s kind of a distancing strategy.
22:51 Dr. Cate O’Brien: A second way and an important way to learn deep acting is to really try to empathize with the residents, and when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it’s easier to understand that frustration, and again, not take it personally. But kind of see yourself on their side. And I think that this is where both senior living employees and those in certain other types of roles, such as different kinds of caregiving roles, have an advantage and that they’re more likely to have a relationship with the person that they’re interacting with, and when you have that relationship, taking that steps towards empathy and understanding is even easier.
23:34 Pamela D. Wilson: In your research, what types of training have you come across that can help people, these care workers in assisted living communities to feel like they’re actually accomplishing things and doing good instead of feeling frustrated?
23:48 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Yes. I would say even before staff training on the management level, just recognizing that emotional labor is occurring and it’s something that employees often experience is a great start. Because we know that just generally, that employee recognition is important and so recognizing the efforts of those employees who provide consistently positive interactions— particularly in difficult situations, that can be really helpful. Also, if employees are in a position where they may be experiencing those challenges throughout the day, giving them freedom to take a break and kind of emotionally recharge can be helpful. But getting back to specific training. I think, again, empathy training, which is becoming more common, is one type of training. Emotional intelligence is something that employers are talking a lot about, and there are trainings around that and just around managing emotions in those difficult situations, and it could be very specific to whatever the—excuse me—specific position is. That training may change a good deal, but it would focus on empathy, perspective-taking, and managing emotions.
25:13 Pamela D. Wilson: And I understand that your research is specific to senior living care staff, but is emotional labor something that other people also experience?
25:23 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Yes, and in addition to senior living, and as I mentioned, a lot of different types of customer service oriented positions, the restaurant industry, retail, and other types of customer service positions. It can also apply to any work situation where someone needs to interact with their coworkers, which is really most employees are in that situation. Because in that case, there are still organizational expectations regarding how employees treat one another. So it’s not okay to be short with coworkers just because you’re feeling frustrated or because they might feel frustrated with you. Depending on the relationships of the employees involved in the degree of interaction, those expectations may be a little looser and more flexible than employees might have with a customer or resident. But there’s still that expectation of a certain kind of expression, which can feel challenging in certain situations. And so one thing employers and particularly supervisors can do is, try to really create a safe space for authentic expression. So demonstrating that it’s okay to disagree and have direct conversations, even though a certain level of respect still needs to be maintained. And I think any of us who are in those roles could try to reflect that and think about how we can support that kind of expression and communication. So that would be a second big area.
27:02 Pamela D. Wilson: And you’re working on a study about the social impact of the pandemic among older adults, do you have any preliminary findings on that that you can share?
27:13 Dr. Cate O’Brien: We do. So we interviewed 20 older adults around the Chicago area about their experiences in the pandemic, and we wanted to particularly focus on that social aspect because we know social isolation, generally, even pre-pandemic, can be an important issue. So not surprisingly, participants commonly expressed initial feelings of shock and fear. Even some of them even compared the initial experience of shutdowns and the shock of that to being in a war, to 9/11. But at the same time, they mostly reported pretty successful adjustment to their situation, and in particular, they talked about the importance of their mindset or the way they thought about the pandemic, and the impact on their life, and how that really helped them. So for some of them, that included having an awareness of what they can and can’t control. Also, many participants used the strategy that we see elsewhere, which is kind of just a comparison.
28:22 Dr. Cate O’Brien: Many of the participants viewed themselves as better off than others in their particular situation in the pandemic and expressed gratitude with their own life situation. So, for example, some of them were married, or had children, or were better off financially and so they were grateful that they did have those important benefits in their lives. And despite the challenges, a lot of them identified other bright spots like being able to slow down. Learning something new or gaining a new perspective and learning how to connect with people in new ways. So overall, we just saw a lot of adjustment and kind of positivity among the group.
29:11 Pamela D. Wilson: That’s great. Well, and I will try to stay in touch with you, so maybe we can have you back and talk about the full results of that study. Listeners, we are heading off to another break. Add The Caring Generation podcast app to the cellphones of elderly parents and loved ones to make it easy for them to listen to the show every week. This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
31:56 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations of caring. Giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, health, the patient experience, family relationships, and everything in between. Helpful articles are on my website, www.PamelaDWilson.com. In my free caregiving library and in my Caring for Aging Parents Caregiving blog. Let’s continue the conversation about work family conflict and caregiver stress and burnout, and the most ten common causes of caregiving conflict. We’ll also talk about research that confirms what caring workplaces should do to support working caregivers. Let’s start by talking about caregiving situations, and the purpose of this conversation is to help caregivers early in the journey understand the broad and long-term impacts of caregiving. I also want to educate corporations, groups, and upper-level management, and human resource managers about the effect of work family conflict and why corporations should begin supporting working caregivers if you are not.
33:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Caring for elderly parents has a lot of similarities. Number one is time demands. Early in helping elderly parents—before adult children realize that they are a caregiver— the time devoted might be short, one or two hours a week. Let’s go to the other extreme and talk about caregivers who are devoting more than 40 hours a week to the care of elderly parents. One in four people in the United States is some type of caregiver. These are people who actually recognize that they are a caregiver. There are over 40 million self-reported caregivers. Of these, one in four or about 25% are caregiving more than 40 hours a week. Some of these caregivers are 24/7 caregivers, living with an elderly parent or a spouse, or having mom or dad live with you. If you’re a caregiver, how many hours a week do you devote to care today? What if that number quickly changed to more than 40 hours a week? What effect would that have on you, and your family, and your career? Would work family conflict become difficult for you to manage? Here is an employer factor. Corporations, most of them don’t address caregiving issues. As a result, they lose great employees because of work family conflict and because of insensitivity to the needs of caregiving employees by supervisors who aren’t trained.
34:40 Pamela D. Wilson: If training was in the workplace—if these issues were addressed—this would help corporations retain working caregivers who resigned from positions to be caregivers. It would also preserve the financial well-being of these employees. The downside is some companies believe that turnover is part of doing business. That it’s a cost of doing business. It doesn’t have to be that way. Number two, for work, family conflict, and caregiver stress, and burnout, is IADL limitations. That’s medical speak for instrumental activities of daily living. This is the type of assistance where helping elderly parents begins. Activities are things like using the telephone, shopping, and errands, housekeeping, scheduling appointments, managing a schedule or a calendar, using transportation, taking medications, and paying bills. Early on, people in caregiving situations are helping with these. They’re tasks that are simple in nature. But they can build to become time-consuming. Number three for work family conflict and caregiver stress is ADL limitations. That’s medical speak for activities of daily living.
35:49 Pamela D. Wilson: These mostly relate to hands-on care. It’s things like bathing and grooming, dressing, meal preparation, feeding an elderly parent, helping them use the bathroom, manage continence, and mobility. So, things like sitting, standing, walking, getting in and out of a car. Needing help with ADLs for older adults, a lot of times results from being physically inactive. Sitting all day, not walking, not exercising. If anybody out there sits a lot, get up and start moving. Health concerns and physical disabilities—they increase the difficulties of performing IADLs and ADLs for our elderly parents. As elderly parents need more assistance, work family conflict, and caregiver stress and burnout can build to really unsustainable levels. Work family conflict places many caregivers in that situation where you feel stuck. You feel stuck providing care. Stuck and alone trying to find a work life balance—frustrated. Frustrated about family members who won’t step up and help. The struggle for caregivers is finding a voice, a voice to speak up about your needs and asking for help, and identifying caregiver resources that are reliable and trustworthy.
37:08 Pamela D. Wilson: How many of you find yourself in this place feeling stuck? I’d like to hear from you. On my website is a caregiver survey. You can go to www.PamelaDWilson.com, click on Contact Me and complete that survey. Number four is cognitive impairment, and this is a big one. Memory loss ranges from mild cognitive impairment all the way to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia that relates to other diseases like Parkinson’s, stroke, heart disease. Caregiver stress for memory loss is high. It’s off the charts. Why is that? Well, part of it is safety. An elderly parent who has memory loss requires a lot of supervision—a lot like a baby who can’t be left alone. Work family conflict arises when that caregiver is trying to figure out how to work and pay their bills, and they have to be home in the evenings or overnight for elderly parents. It can seem unsolvable when you’re caring for someone with memory loss, and you don’t have any support. You’re doing everything. In that caregiving journey, it’s important to learn what can happen related to the stages of caregiving. The idea is being prepared rather than finding yourself in a shocking position where all of a sudden, you are experiencing high levels of work family conflict, and you have to make those difficult decisions.
38:30 Pamela D. Wilson: Do I work? Don’t I work? If I give up my job, how will I support myself? Can my parents support me? What is it going to be like if I quit, and I try to go back to work? Will I have the right work skills? Can I go back to work at the same level of superiority or priority that I have today and at the same income? These are all questions that relate for caregivers when thinking about work and family conflict. We will continue this conversation after the break. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
41:27 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to talk about number five, for work family conflict and caregiver stress and burnout. This is the idea that Dr. Cate O’Brien talked about in our interview. The technical term for this is emotional labor. The simple explanation is caregivers learning to regulate emotions so that you’re not drained by emotional vampires and needy people in your life who like to stir up conflict. In addition to elderly parents or the people that you may care for. We all have some of these people in our lives. It’s how we choose to respond that determines the effect these people have on our emotions in our daily lives. Work family conflict arises at work when co-workers don’t pull their weight. If you’re a working caregiver, could this person be you? Have you talked to your supervisor? Have you asked your human resources department? These are the people to talk to about caregiver support programs, workshops, and seminars. If not, what are you waiting for? Speak up.
42:37 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s proven that workplace support in the way of having an understanding supervisor, flexible schedules, education, workshops, and seminars can relieve caregiver stress and burnout. Support from caring workplaces can reduce work-family conflict and bring up the idea of generativity. It’s another term that you may not have heard of. Work family conflict can be reduced by current generations—that would be us—thinking about the future and the next generation of caregivers. Which would be our children. If you are a working caregiver with children, what future are you creating for your children? Are you modeling the behaviors of elderly parents who might not have taken good care of their health? Are you planning for costs of care for yourself so that your children don’t have to interrupt their careers and their lives to care for you? These two aspects are lessons that being a caregiver offers us. The difference is how we will manage this experience as a caregiver. We know that work family conflict can be all-encompassing and very emotional. Caregiver stress and burnout can result in exhaustion.
43:49 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregivers being so tired and so worn out that they don’t feel like they can seek support or education. Research confirms that work family conflict results in a lack of energy, aches and pains, physical illness, a lack of motivation, emotional exhaustion, depression, and not really caring about work. The experience of work life conflict, it can result in uncertainty. We’re worried about today. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Let’s talk about number six for work life conflict and caregiver stress and burnout—it’s health, both physical and emotional, that do become concerns for caregivers who are in this day-in, day-out, never-ending grind of caring for elderly parents and trying to manage work and family. A lot of caregivers tell me they’re too busy to take care of their health by going to a regular doctor’s appointment. They don’t eat well. They don’t exercise. While the body can take a little bit of inattention, over time, you know what happens? Exhaustion, weight gain, health concerns. If you don’t want to end up like your elderly parents, it’s important that you find ways to take care of yourself as a caregiver. This might mean asking other people for help. I know you don’t like to do that, but it can be a huge help to you.
45:07 Pamela D. Wilson: For workplaces, support for caregivers means schedule flexibility. A flexible schedule helps caregivers manage work family conflict and allows caregivers time to take care of their health and the health of aging parents. COVID has made remote work possible for many employees. Employers have seen the results of having employees working off-site. It’s actually working. Employees have flexed their schedules to accommodate work and family—that’s working. While it may have blurred the lines a little bit between an 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM job, findings are confirming that employees who are working at home are experiencing greater life satisfaction. They’re happier. For employees who have elderly parents living with them, COVID-19 may have complicated that situation. It may have complicated the ability to work without interruptions. Whatever the circumstances, COVID has changed the workplace and caregiving forever. Corporations who offer employees flexible schedules to manage work family conflict will lower caregiver stress and burnout. Those who provide options for caregiver support in the way of workshops, seminars, and courses might see a positive trend back to employee engagement and retention.
46:24 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregivers will be more attentive. Supported working caregivers may not worry about trying to find access to resources and helpful information because it’s provided through programs in the workplace. Less distracted employees might be able to focus more, be more productive, turnover may lower. It can be an amazing situation if corporations can embrace caregiving programs. Number seven for work family conflict and caregiver stress and burnout his family support and collaboration. Work family conflict can result in disagreements between spouses, children, siblings—who is going to provide care for mom or dad? Disagreements can arise from differences of opinions about caregiving, and what caregivers should do, what they shouldn’t do. That primary caregiver, many times it is you, the daughter. You have challenges of doing it all alone. Your brothers and sisters may not live close. They might not be willing to help. It’s crazy. And then you’ve got elderly parents who are refusing care. Family relationships that work well or don’t work well at all—are a significant cause of caregiver stress and burnout.
47:31 Pamela D. Wilson: Number eight for work and family conflict is money. If you haven’t talked about money yet, now is the time. How will giving up income—if you give up your job and health benefits—affect your life. What happens when an elderly parent lacks income or savings to pay for care? Discussions about the risks of caregivers, thinking about giving up employment, are critical. It’s easy to make decisions based on emotions versus looking at the long-term implications. This and more information for caregivers is in my online course, Taking Care of Elderly Parents Stay at Home and Beyond. I also create unique programs for corporations and groups, specific to the interest of caregivers.
48:15 Pamela D. Wilson: More information is on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com, where you can reach me by clicking on the contact me button. You can also take my caregiver survey there. Listeners, you can follow me on Facebook @pameladwilsoncaregivingexpert. Join my online caregiver support group. It is called the Caregiving Trap. A lot of wonderful, amazing caregivers in that group. We talk about caregiving issues. You can ask questions. You can share your situation. All of the caregivers understand and they are very supportive. We have caregivers in there who are 20 years old all the way up to those in their 70s and 80s caring for elderly parents, so it is a wide, diverse group. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker. You are with me on The Caring generation, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
51:24 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Coming up next week, we have caregiver and effective patient education strategies that will take the subject of today’s program one step further. The show guest is Attorney Eric Carlson, who will talk about nursing home residents’ rights. There’ve been a lot of questions from caregivers about that.
51:52 Pamela D. Wilson: Number nine for work family conflict and caregiver stress and burnout is social support. There’s never enough social support for caregivers because of the isolation factor. Being a caregiver can take over your life. You may have had an active social life with friends. Being a caregiver can scoop up all your time, leaving little time for you. Friends who aren’t caregivers don’t understand, and you might lose them. You lose touch, and you find yourself alone. Joining an in-person online caregiving support group, like my Facebook group, is an easy way to maintain a level of social support. You can meet other caregivers in similar situations who understand, will be empathetic, and may have helpful suggestions for you.
52:37 Pamela D. Wilson: Number 10 for work family conflict and caregiver stress is the idea of education and mastery. Most caregivers learn by trial and error. That can be a little frustrating and a lot scary. You might be afraid that something that you do or don’t do, know or don’t know, might negatively affect your parent. It can happen, it’s very possible. By participating in support groups, attending a workshop, or taking an online course like my course, Taking Care of Elderly Parents Stay at Home, you can learn how to manage all of the unexpected things that happen in caregiving situations. You will be prepared because you’ll know what might happen, what can happen, and if it does, you’ll know what to do about it. You’ll gain knowledge of the different types of resources available for caregivers. Learn how to manage sticky family relationships and coordinate care with the healthcare system that is not always friendly. Being a caregiver—it takes so many skills. Caregiving is an education in itself. The benefit is learning things today that we as caregivers can do for ourselves so that we won’t pass caregiving stress down to the next generation. My caregiving course helps caregivers create a plan for care for elderly parents and for themselves. Discuss this information that I used to train care managers in my company.
54:03 Pamela D. Wilson: Each care situation, as you know, is different depending on the health needs of an elderly parent. Chronic diseases interact with each other. Memory loss has its own complexities and challenges. Work family conflict can be managed when families come together to create a plan rather than dump, and I say the word dump kindly. Because this is how caregivers tell me they feel. They feel like they’re stuck that their family dumped caregiving responsibilities in their lap. But even in those situations, the caregivers aren’t shirking or disagreeing with the responsibility of care for elderly parents. They say, “you know. It’d be just nice to have a little bit of help. It would be just nice to have somebody listen to me,” and to find a way to minimize the effect of all this work family conflict. Minimize my stress and my burnout. Caregivers, the way forward is to speak up. Talk about caregiving responsibilities in the workplace. Ask your supervisors, ask your human resource departments for help. Have conversations within your families, plan ahead for your care needs, be proactive. Planning for caregiving involves three areas, health and care, financial planning, how are you going to pay for care, and that legal planning for Power of Attorney, medical and financial, and how to create a worry-free experience.
55:31 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregivers, ask for the health education that you need from elderly parents, your families, and the workplace. If you have ideas for future programs, visit my website, www.PamelaDWilson.com. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, author, and speaker. God bless all of you caregivers, take care of yourself. Sleep well tonight, have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are together again.
55:54 Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host, Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone, here on Pamela D. Wilson’s The Caring Generation.