Like many caregivers, you may wonder how to further your career while still providing all the daily care your loved one requires. Career growth can be key to your health and happiness, but it often seems impossible. Here’s a closer look at the current statistics of working caregivers, and some steps you can take to progress in your professional and personal endeavors.
The Working Caregiver
According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, about 60 percent of caregivers work outside of the home: Just over 10 percent hold part-time jobs, while another 50 percent are employed full time. And with about half of the current workforce expecting to act as caregivers within the next few years, there’s no question that the issue of career growth is a prominent one.
There are a number of things you can do for your career while caring for your senior. These include:
1. Continuing Your Education
Finishing an undergraduate degree, earning a vocational certificate, or completing a graduate degree used to require sitting in a classroom. Today, there are more feasible options that you can use while you perform your caregiver duties. Most colleges and universities offer online degrees and certificates. Additionally, many schools offer night and weekend classes — times when respite care may be available from other family members. If your loved one can be left alone for short periods of time, a medical alert device may give you the peace of mind you need to focus during class.
2. Gaining Experience
You may be able to grow professionally without working full time. Try looking for internships with local companies or pursuing new hobbies that may lead to an interesting career development. Local community centers also offer classes in a wide range of topics. These classes can present opportunities to learn new skills and meet new people. And if possible, working as an occasional freelancer could allow you to make a little money while you gain experience.
It may not be possible to work a regular job while you juggle your caregiver duties. However, volunteer positions tend to offer much more flexible schedules. Volunteer to help out at a local elementary school or at a nonprofit organization in a job that’s related to your field. If you prefer to stay closer to the house, consider ways that you can work from home. For example, think about volunteering to help a local community group with their monthly newsletter if you’re interested in writing, editing, journalism, or public relations.
Figuring out how to further your career while balancing your caregiver duties can be tricky. But staying active in the workforce can do far more than just help you make more money: It can help preventloneliness, improve your physical and mental health, and help you provide the best possible care to the ones you love.