Handling the sudden needs of aging parents is likely to be a major workplace disruption in the next few years. Why? The senior population in need of daily care is set to rise nearly 40% in the next decade.
Here’s how to prepare for the crisis:
Work as if you’re leaving tomorrow for vacation. “Get your backlog as close to zero as you can, and keep it there,” says David Allen, a productivity coach. Create a system that others can easily understand so co-workers can pick up the ball. Example: Enter details into your calendar system, along with contacts, for at least the next five workdays. Leave related files nearby.
Research your employer’s time-off policy and federal and state laws. For example, the federal Act allows eligible workers up to 12 unpaid weeks off.
Strengthen relationships with human resource managers, advises Rick Brenner, a workplace consultant. “They’re the ones who are going to bend the policy for you, and you’re surely going to need the policy bent.”
Make deposits in your “goodwill savings account” with co-workers. Examples: Help them hit a deadline by staying late, take over a task so they can leave early for a family event or help in an emergency.
Forget about perfectionism. Caring for a family member means letting go of perfectionist tendencies.
Gather medical information about your parents in advance. Examples: their emergency contacts, insurance plans, medications and medical histories. Should you need to, you can quickly fax it to doctors.
Tap into these resources for elder care:
- caregiver.org for research and a guide to programs
- caremanager.org for help in finding a geriatric care manager
- caregiving.org for advocacy and research
- nfcacares.org for support and networking tools.
— Adapted from “Parental Pull: How to Prepare For an Elder-Care Emergency,” Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal.