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    Balancing Work and Caregiving

    By Mary Jo DiLonardo
    WebMD Feature

    If you're like most caregivers, taking care of your loved one isn't the only work you do. Trying to balance both can be hard. Here are some tips that might help.

    Tell Your Boss

    When your private life affects your work life, it's time to talk to your boss, says Amy Goyer, the AARP's home and family expert and author of Juggling Work and Caregiving. She suggests being honest and professional about the challenges you're facing outside your job.

    "Sometimes when you don't share 'This is what I'm going through in my personal life,' and you're coming in late and taking time off, your employer might think that you're not dedicated," she says. "Be very clear that you're very committed to your job, that it's your priority, but this is what you're handling in the rest of your life."

    Craft a solution. For example, if you're having trouble getting to work on time because you have to get your loved one ready in the morning for adult day care while getting your child to school, talk to your manager to see about shifting your hours.

    Creative Options

    Some employers offer caregiving support and may be able to help you find temporary or permanent options -- for you and your loved one. You can also ask your human resources representative or boss if they can offer changes in your work schedule, which might ease your caregiving obligations. These could include:

    • Earlier or later start times
    • Flexible hours to work around doctor appointments and other commitments
    • Predictable hourly schedule
    • Compressed schedule
    • Job sharing
    • Telecommuting
    • Transferring locations if your company has an office closer to your loved one

    Other Choices

    Think about taking paid time off -- like vacation days, sick time, or personal leave. Some employers also offer caregiving leave, when you can take unpaid time off to care for a loved one.

    The Family and Medical Leave Act requires all companies with at least 50 employees to offer 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious medical condition. Talk to your HR department to find out if you qualify.

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