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We have written a lot about the physical and emotional impact of being a long-distance caregiver, along with the high levels of stress that can lead to caregiver burnout. There is one more important issue to discuss and that is the impact that long-distance caregiving responsibilities can have on work. Caregiving duties can easily disrupt work schedules and career paths.
A national study of 1,130 long-distance caregivers conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving with Zogby International looked at the impact of caregiving on work and the MetLife Mature Market Institute℠ published a report on the findings. It paints a picture of compassionate caregivers who are struggling to balance caregiving, their personal life, and work.
There are approximately 34 million American caregivers and 15% of them live one hour or more away from the person in their care. In fact, among study participants, caregivers lived an average distance of 450 miles from their loved one and traveled 7.23 hours one-way to visit them.
The study found that when it comes to balancing work and caregiving responsibilities there are many challenges for caregivers including work interruptions because of time spent on the phone coordinating care, responding to calls from their loved one and more. The majority of respondents in this study, (80%), were working either full or part-time.
Even though men and women both reported that caregiving disrupted their work, women reported losing greater numbers of hours. This is due to the fact that women in the study were more likely to report that they were the only or the main caregiver in their situation, thereby absorbing more of the impact of caregiving responsibilities.
These issues increase stress on long-distance caregivers exponentially. Not only do they worry about the health and well-being of their loved one, they also have to worry about the status of their job and their own financial well-being. As the senior population continues to grow, services need to address these conflicting priorities and help to support caregivers. You shouldn’t ever feel under-resourced, however, if you find yourself wondering what resources are out there for accommodating long-distance care here are few tips.
While employers become aware of these issues and hopefully move to create supportive workplaces, professional at-home caregivers can help. They can be an extension of care for the long-distance caregiver and serve as the eyes and ears in the home of their loved ones. Professional caregivers are trained in many specialties, from Alzheimer’s disease to Parkinson’s disease. They can provide hourly or daily care on a regular basis or in times of special need like after hospital discharge or suffering a stroke. Given the enormity of caregiving, having a professional to help on site with a loved one can be a relief and a great support system for long-distance caregivers.