Learn About Juggling Work and Family Responsibilities

Most people who help older family members also work outside the home.

Workplaces may offer options to employees who are helping older family members, such as:

  • Flexible schedules, such as short work weeks (four 10-hour days) or work outside of "regular" business hours

  • Telecommuting

  • Job sharing

  • Leave-sharing policies where employees donate leave time to co-workers

  • Paid or unpaid time off

  • Video conferencing technology, so employees can join work or care meetings remotely

Workplaces may offer benefits and information to employees who are helping older family members. These can include:

  • Employee assistance programs, which can offer online information, referrals, phone support or other services

  • Flexible spending accounts, which allow people to put aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for care

  • Support groups

  • Workshops, webinars or other programs with eldercare experts

  • Advice on tax benefits, insurance and other financial or legal matters

The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows some employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave to help older family members with medical emergencies or chronic health issues. FMLA covers employees of government agencies, public schools and private workplaces with at least 50 employees. State family medical leave laws may cover other employees.

Some people who help older family members make changes to their paid work, such as:

  • Turning down promotions or other job opportunities

  • Working fewer hours

  • Taking a more flexible or less demanding job

  • Becoming self-employed

  • Taking time off from paid work

  • Retiring early

Women are more likely than men to make changes to their paid work to help older family members.

Working less or leaving paid work can reduce pension, retirement, Social Security or other benefits. To decide the best option for themselves and their families, people can compare:

  • How much they will lose in income and benefits

  • How much time they will gain to help out

  • How much it would cost to hire paid help

Families can avoid conflict by discussing how they will acknowledge and support someone who reduces or leaves their paid work to help older relatives.