If you're caring for parents who still work, it's wonderful to encourage them to continue working as long as they can and as long as they enjoy it. However, even parents in an independent living situation may start showing signs that work is more difficult due to physical or cognitive changes.
As the eldercare provider, you may be the first to notice this, or you may be the first one contacted by your parents' employers, depending on your relationship with the company. Here are some suggestions for handling this eldercare situation, adapted from an article by Beth Baker in Workforce Management:
- Talk to your parents about what you've noticed while providing eldercare in regard to memory problems, physical limitations, or other independent living issues.
- Ask your parents if they've noticed changes while working or in their independent living situation, noting that they may not want to discuss it or may not realize that anything has changed.
- Schedule a medical evaluation to assess any changes you and your parents have noticed. If there's a diagnosis such as Alzheimer's disease, be sure to discuss with the eldercare provider how work should be adapted and when it might be time to stop working. Also ask about independent living concerns, if applicable.
- If you have a good relationship with your parents' employers, schedule a meeting to strategize how to accommodate your parents' needs. For example, those with early-stage Alzheimer's can often continue working with the use of lists, reminders, or reassignment to more manageable duties.
- If you know your parents' closest co-workers, consider sharing with them your parents' eldercare situation and needs, if they're okay with that.
- Above all, as an eldercare provider, be an advocate for your parents both at the workplace and in their independent living situation. Especially at work, it's important that your parents' eldercare needs be acknowledged as medical issues as opposed to performance issues requiring discipline.
Oftentimes, extending your parents' work life will mean better quality of life for them as well as a better experience for the organization and you as an eldercare provider. Have you already dealt with this issue while caring for parents? Post a comment to this blog, and be sure to sign up for our RSS Feed to receive regular updates about new eldercare topics posted on EldercareABC.com.
--Carrie L. Hill, Ph.D