Nominate a caregiver-friendly workplace

happy office workerA recent article in the Los Angeles Times titled “The Caregiver’s Dilemma” chronicled the author’s struggle to care for herself as she looked after her mother, who has dementia and was in a rehab facility with a broken hip. As I read the article, I could feel the author’s exhaustion. When she concluded that she could not take care of both herself and her mother at the same time, stating, “It’s one or the other, one at a time,” I completely understood what she meant. So many of us are becoming unpaid family caregivers, and the toll is not just on the caregiver. People are astonished when I tell them that family caregivers provide 80 percent of the long-term care services in this country and those services are valued at $577 billion—more than the total cost of Medicare. Yes, caregiving is a silent epidemic. Those caring for loved ones are often thrust into unexpected roles that are complex, costly and stressful. It’s not just a social issue; it’s a workplace issue too. According...

Dad’s greatest fear

IMG00070My mom was on a short errand this month when I called the house. My dad answered the phone. After some small talk, my dad asked me a cryptic question: “Is there anything serious you want to tell me about your mother?” I thought for a minute, but couldn’t come up with any secrets my mother had recently shared or serious conversations we had over the past few weeks. “I can’t think of anything,” I told my dad, and he seemed OK with that reply. A few days later, I asked my mom if she knew what dad’s question was all about. Frustrated, she said, “Your dad has too much time on his hands to think! He’s worried I’m going to put him in a nursing home.” It dawned on me this line of thought has been on my dad’s mind a lot lately. Recently, my aunt and uncle invited my mom to visit them down South this winter for a week’s respite. My sister offered to care for my dad, who has advanced Parkinson’s disease, during that time. Many of us have encouraged my mom to go away for some respite time...

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