Baby boomers have been hit hard by income stagnation, job cuts, career immobility, and re-employment difficulty. Add in a labor of love — caregiving — and their strains magnify.
Parents of young children get it. They juggle home and work responsibilities every day. And the “mommy track” impediment to career advancement is well documented.
Now, perhaps because the boomer generation is so big, there’s increased attention to the juggling act by older workers. Millions are trying to prosper in the workplace while holding care duties for aging parents, incapacitated spouses or other loved ones.
Some serious findings were published Sept. 15 from a survey of adults, three-fourths of them women, who visited Caring.com, an information site for caregivers. Career stresses included:
▪ About two-thirds said caregiving had a negative effect on their jobs, such as distracting phone calls, emails and emotional distress, and two-thirds said the distractions were “significant.”
▪ One-third said they spent 30 hours a week — almost a full-time job — on unpaid caregiving.
▪ Nearly one-third said they often arrived late or left work early because of caregiving.
The survey also found personal financial costs associated with caregiving. Out-of-pocket costs related to their loved ones’ needs plus delayed saving or retirement planning were common.
Eight in 10 of the survey respondents said they’ve told their employers about their situation. That’s good. Managers need to know why time and attention are diverted so that they don’t assume the caregiver has checked out or lost ambition.
Caregivers can’t expect to get a pass on work expectations. But managers may recognize best intentions and perhaps allow flexible schedules or work-at-home options if needs are known.