If you’re over 65 and living in the US, chances are you are NOT retiring any time soon. Either by choice or necessity, we keep working. And with the number of available positions at an all-time high, you have choices.
Many of us who’ve been working most of our lives have perceptions about the workplace that could probably use some updating. After the crash of 2008, unemployment was an enormous problem, and it left many jobless or underemployed for months, sometimes years. But the situation has turned around, and applicants are now in the driver’s seat.
There are over 7.3 million unfilled positions in the US (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Tuesday, July 9, 2019). 43.5 million employees in the US are family caregivers. With the population of aging people in the United States exploding to the tune of 10,000 daily, that means the people businesses are competing to recruit and retain are either caregiving an aging loved one now or will be in the near future. Does this resonate with you?
Most employers offer maternity and paternity leave, but few discuss elder care leave. At some point, staff members will be pulled into this tremendously challenging calling, which will keep them from being productive at work, and take a toll on their overall well-being.
So many of us have living parents who need help. And this often coincides with having children who still need us to some extent. Add a career to this equation, and the concept of work-life balance takes on an almost mythic quality.
What can a senior employee do? Start by seeking out employers with “caregiver friendly” policies. Admittedly, at this stage in our evolution, employers who tout this as a benefit are few and far between. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t. It just means you have to coax it out of them by asking the right questions at your interviews.
The Family Leave Act requires firms with 50 or more full time employees to allow 12 weeks off to care for family members (or themselves) in the event of a health crisis. In a few states, compensation must be paid as well. Employers don’t always talk about this, but if they have sufficient staff on site, this is a “benefit” they are required to provide. You can certainly ask about their policy and whether they offer paid leave. While rare, in this age of low unemployment, some companies are offering more robust incentives, so it pays to ask. And it heightens their awareness that this is important to mention.
Some companies with human resources departments also use “EAPs” (Employee Assistance Professionals) to connect employees with the right tools. It’s worth asking about these as well.
The game of employment has changed dramatically over the last several years. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to leverage your skills and experience for a more rewarding position with a more appropriate, appreciative company. You deserve to be compensated and supported. If you’re going to keep working, make it work for you and your loved ones.
Written by: Tracey S. Lawrence
Tracey S. Lawrence is a woman of many talents. Most of her adult life, she served clients as a graphic artist. That changed when her parents became ill.
Tracey’s journey as a serial caregiver, to her husband (twice: first in 1987, then in 2017), her father (who died in 2004) and her mother (who died in 2015) gives her a unique perspective on life and death. She is quoted as saying “That which does not kill me makes me stranger.”
The published author of the ground-breaking book, “Dementia Sucks: A Caregiver’s Journey – With Lessons Learned,” Tracey shares her discoveries, insights and humor with the world, encouraging people to wake up to the harsh realities of life before they become undeniable. Laughter, compassion and acceptance are part of the recipe required to plan for and survive the current climate of healthcare, illness and the overwhelming nature of it all.
Author of “Dementia Sucks: A Caregiver’s Journey – With Lessons Learned.” Founder of Grand Family Planning LLC, Family Coach, Professional Speaker and Corporate Trainer.