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I'm Afraid of Losing my Job Because of Caregiving


"My mother has many needs and expects me to be there any time she calls.  I work full time and working is not a choice for me.  I must maintain employment to keep my home and pay my bills.  Mother's needs are very real.  I do her shopping, cleaning, take her to appointments, and even run over if she has trouble getting out of the chair on occasion.  I work about 30 minutes away and live about the same amount of travel time.  Mom has me running and coming over almost every day.  I am tired, distracted at work, and always on edge waiting for the next emergency.  I am now worried that I will lose my job. What do I do? "


 You are in a situation where your mother's needs are beginning to exceed your capacity for caregiving.  Since employment versus no employment is not an option for you, it is time for action. 

Exploring your options is the first order of business. Check into the Family and Medical Leave Act, FMLA, to determine if you qualify. For those who do not know, "the FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave." Then determine if you would be paid for all or some of it.  Armed with that information you will be able to make an informed choice about whether or not intermittent leave from work is an option for you. 

The more troubling comment is that you might be called upon to help your mother out of a chair.  If a fall happens once or there is an emergency one time, that is minor.  When it begins to happen more than once a solution needs to be found.  Leaving work and driving 25 minutes to help your mother out of a chair is not a reasonable solution, because some day you may not be able to just walk out. Caring for someone while at work is a recipe for employment trouble.  Most employers are flexible to a point, and it sounds like you are reaching it.

Tap into siblings if you have them.  Do any of them live closer?  Can they stop by in a moment’s notice?  If you parcel-out individual tasks among siblings, the work load can be lighter for everyone.

 If your mother needs care or supervision during the day, adult day care or a home health visit each day are choices or to consider.  Gently explain to your mother that a viable solution is required, and you are being stretched beyond capacity. 

If daily errands or visits are too much, batch your trips so that you are not running every day.  If she is asking for you to come so often for social stimulation, other options can certainly be found.  Your local department of aging can be a resource to help you locate other social opportunities.

It is possible that your mother will attempt to make you feel guilty for obtaining outside support, so do your best to resist the pressure. Do as much as you can, be there for mom, and tap into resources that you need.