Balancing act: Working full-time and caring for aging parent

More companies offering assistance programs in Central Florida

Published On: Jan 08 2013 11:15:45 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 09 2013 12:10:31 AM EST
ORLANDO, Fla. -

These days, most of us are busier than ever, juggling jobs, kids, and the day-to-day grind of life.

And now, for a lot of you, there's a new challenge -- taking care of your elderly parents, while still working full-time.

But during these difficult times, more companies are trying to make this tough task easier on you.

"They took care of you when you were little and growing up, now it's your turn to take care of them," says Marsha Oaks, a DeLand resident.

She's balancing a full-time job as a nurse, taking care of her three grandkids, and dealing with the daily stress of her 87-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer's

"Emotionally, it's overwhelming at times," says Oaks. "The elderly, when they have dementia, anything can set them off, really mess up their day for them, their thinking capabilities."

That's why Marsha relies on all kinds of assistance programs in Central Florida. One of them, an in-home nurse who visits her mother every week.

"It can be something as simple as coming and doing some homemaking once a week for them, and doing their laundry," says Oaks.

She thinks in-home aides can be a great resource for people balancing full-time jobs, and aging parents. They visit your loved one whenever you need them to, and they're usually covered by Medicare and other insurance plans.

"Most folks don't want to spend a lot of time bouncing in and out of emergency rooms," says Chuck Lee, the President of Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care of Central Florida.

He says that palliative care is something else you might want to consider if your parent is sick.

Like hospice, the treatment uses a team of doctors, nurses, and counselors at your home to focus on relieving your pain and symptoms.

But unlike hospice, where patients are given six months or less to live, palliative care can be used by anyone with a serious illness, that doctors say, can still be cured.

"Help and provide, whether that's therapy, whether that's some medicine, whether that might be other types of counseling and support," says Lee. "Really help them get through those tough times."

Lee says that palliative care is covered by Medicare. And long-term, it may be cheaper than having your loved one constantly going to the emergency room.

"It helps everybody have a better care experience, if we do that well," says Lee.

Another option may be from your boss. According to new numbers from the National Study of Employers, 75 percent of companies say they give paid or unpaid time off to workers who need to take care of their parents -- without putting their jobs in jeopardy. And more companies say they plan to add programs like that in the next five years.

"I think most employers are realizing that they need to have more flexibility to keep their employees happy," says Tonya Elliott with Workforce Central Florida.

She says more employers are also offering what's called Flex Time.

It lets you work four, 10-hour days one week, then have off an extra day the following week to be with your loved ones.

"Then you can take your parents to doctor's appointments, or if they happen to be home that day, you can stay with them," says Elliott.

She also says that you should ask your boss if Flex Time is available where you work.

And one more option -- senior centers and adult day cares. They allow your parent to meet other people their age, do activities, and keep their minds sharp.