Caregiving Pulls Prime Age Women from the Workforce

BLSOn average, nearly one in four women aged 45 to 64 are unpaid caregivers according to the 2015-16 American Time Use Survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly one in seven women 35 to 44 are serving in this role. Apparently, since early 2000 the number of prime age women began to decline after rising for half a century. This shift coincides with a rise in the elderly population.

Thanks to my sister-in-law who shared the article in The New York Times. The topic has been debated for years and the prime motivator was believed to be caring for children, but now it’s becoming clear that many women are leaving to care for an elderly relative.

I recently wrote about The Impact of Caregiving on Employment — AARP projected that 49 percent of the workforce will be providing care in the coming years — and I am hoping that employers will start to consider how to help their workforce navigate the coming reality.

My caregiving duties lead me to leave the workforce temporarily. I had no idea how to manage work, raise kids, and help my parents. I wish I had access to information on how to be a good advocate for a loved one. Now that I’m on the other side of caring to two parents, I provide educational programs to caregivers in hopes of helping other families navigate these difficult waters. We shouldn’t all have to learn “on the job”.

Now that I work in the world of caregiving, the idea that there really is no way to easily, affordably get care is an issue I see everyday. I don’t know how we can solve that, but I am glad to see that the facts are helping bring light to this growing issue. Shared. 


A Tale of Three Women with Dementia

threeflowersWhile my parents were in Assisted Living together, I rarely met many of their neighbors. Now that it’s just my Mom, I am meeting many of the ladies who share the hallway. Three weeks ago, we rescued a neighbor who slipped from her walker on the way to the TV.

Yesterday, I stopped to answer the request of my Mom’s neighbor who was sitting in the hallway calling “Hello?” waiting for someone to answer. I have talked to this neighbor before and I know her name. I said “Hello” in return. She asked me “Where am I? Should I be doing something now?” My Mom’s neighbor has no memory and is constantly getting lost in the hallway. As we are chatting, she asks me how I know her. I explain that her apartment is next to my Mother’s. “How do you know it’s my apartment?” I tell her that her name is on the door. She asks me to show her and I walk her to the door of the apartment she’s been staying in for at least ten months. She turns to me and then shares that “Oh, I woke up in that room and had no idea where I was.”  I smile and point out some of the pictures of her hoping that will help her recognize something in the apartment.

Of the three women in Assisted Living I know with dementia, they are very different. One has trouble finding words and putting her sentences together, but seems to know what she wants to do; a second has no idea where she’s living or what she should be doing, but asks very logical questions; and my Mom who seems to be between the other two women and usually writes up her grocery lists and makes her lunch everyday, but can’t remember how to figure out what day of the week it is even through we have tried to integrate that day clock I bought her almost two years ago into her problem-solving skill set.  

The varying ways in which dementia impacts each victim still confounds me. I could be seeing three similar dementia’s in different stages, but I believe the words I was told when I began this journey several years ago. “When you have met one person with dementia, you have met one person with dementia.”

What I have learned is that no matter what stage or type of dementia they have, the ego inside demands to be recognized. I will always treat them as I would expect to be treated. Resolved. 

Some simple things that have severed me well, some that took time to learn:

  1. Approach with a calm, friendly manner.
  2. Explain what you will do before you do it. “I’ will walk you to your room now.”
  3. Respect the individual and don’t treat them like small children (You can debate me on this, but these are my rules!)