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Working From Home as a Family Caregiver: Is It Possible?

By Michaela KitchenApril 26, 2022
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As their parents age, many adult children take on the role of caregiver. And, there are many — sometimes significant — costs associated with caring for an elderly loved one. But, losing income doesn’t have to be one of them.

In our post-pandemic society, many companies offer the opportunity to work from home, whether through a full-time arrangement or a hybrid of office and home hours. For those struggling with a good work-life balance as a caregiver, looking into a remote job with a flexible schedule might help alleviate some of the associated stress.

But, first, you’ll want to make sure you have realistic expectations of what a change will require and what you can manage. Many caregivers find that their loved one’s needs grow over time. These needs can make balancing caregiving with other responsibilities increasingly hard.

While being a caregiver while working from home offers benefits, it has its difficulties, too. With the list below, you’ll be able to think about how these pros and cons might affect your life as a caregiver and an income earner.


In this article:


The pros and cons of being a caregiver working from home

While you might be used to a traditional in-office workday, there are many flexible ways to make money working from home. Consider the following pros and cons of how working from home can positively or negatively impact your life before making a final decision.

Pros of working from home

The flexibility of remote work offers daily benefits to caregivers, including the following:

  • Save time and money. Without commuting to and from work or going out for lunch during the workday as often, caregivers can save time and money. With that extra time and money, caregivers can focus on the things they might need to do at home and have money for more support resources.
  • Earn income as a paid caregiver. There are many programs that will pay you to be your loved one’s caregiver. This supplementary income can help with finances.
  • Run errands and do chores during the day. Caregivers working from home have added flexibility to the point that they may even be able to run quick errands during the day. They may also be able to take more breaks to tend to their family member’s needs and take them to appointments without needing to take time off.
  • Spend more quality time together. Remote work can allow caregivers the opportunity to spend more quality time with their loved ones.
  • Work from anywhere. As long as you have an internet connection and are reachable, you will more than likely be able to continue working when away from your home office. This is great on days when you must run errands or take your parent to an appointment.

Cons of working from home

While remote work has benefits for caregivers, it also presents the following challenges:

  • Difficulty separating work and life. Working and living in two separate spaces supports a good work-life balance. Working from home can cause a clash between those two realms, making it hard to focus on one thing at a time. Add in caregiving, and it may start to feel as if you are always working or always tending to your parent.
  • Reduction of productivity. Related to the previous point: Effectively working two jobs in one space — your remote day job and caregiving — may make it difficult to separate the duties of both. This can lead to a loss of productivity as the duties of both roles begin to compete. Worse still, as your parent’s needs increase, you may find it difficult to compartmentalize your caregiving duties while maintaining your professional work schedule.
  • More communication issues. Communicating online has its benefits, but it also creates difficulties for remote workers. Having to wait for a response from a coworker rather than being able to chat with them in person and receive an immediate response can slow things down. Written communication can also leave room for misunderstandings that don’t happen in face-to-face interactions.

How to work from home with a family: 5 steps to make it work

Not everyone will be able to keep their current job while being a caregiver for a loved one at home. However, a caregiver can take the following steps to increase their odds of being able to do both:

1. Find a remote job

If you’re thinking about changing careers or you’re already looking for a new job, consider looking for one that allows remote work. With the flexibility of working from home, you’ll have more freedom to create a schedule that best fits your needs and the needs of your loved one.

There are a variety of work-from-home jobs available in many fields. While already a growing trend before the pandemic, working from home is now even more common. Consider your qualifications and find a job that best fits your needs. Examples of job fields that can be done from home include the following:

  • Customer service
  • Virtual assistance
  • Marketing
  • Web development
  • Medical coding
  • Survey conducting and recording
  • Content creation
  • Consulting across a diversity of fields

2. Develop a plan for what working from home will look like

While your work-from-home reality might not exactly match the plan you make, it’s still important to have a set of general guidelines. If you’re an employee, a plan will help to make a clear case to your supervisor for why you can be trusted to work from home. You’ll want to demonstrate that you’ve thought things through and know how you will continue to proactively manage your primary responsibilities through the change to remote work and beyond. If you’re self-employed, planning a case can still help you better organize your schedule and business responsibilities so you can make sure everything is covered.

Your plan should include considerations like how others can expect to be able to reach you at any point in the working day, how to handle time-sensitive situations, and how to manage collaborative work remotely. Anything you can think of that will change by being out of the office and working flexible hours should be addressed here.

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3. Create an office space

Turning a section of your house into a workspace will help you psychologically separate your home and work life. This will also help encourage those around you to do so, too. You need to set clear boundaries with those you live with about when it’s okay to disturb you while you’re working. Ideally, a space with a door will signal to them when those boundaries are in place.

4. Don’t try to do as much as you did before

If your parent only needs assistance with basic tasks like dressing in the morning or meal preparation, you can probably continue to manage the same workload as before. But as your loved one’s needs increase, spending 40 or more hours per week in a full-time, professional role may not be feasible. Taking care of a loved one with more serious needs requires more of your energy and time. Trying to continue the same workload and being a full-time caregiver can lead to burnout and fatigue.

Be prepared to scale back. That may mean talking to your boss about reducing your hours or your responsibilities. While it’s not an easy decision to make, it’s better to plan ahead and manage expectations before being a caregiver affects your work.

5. Enlist others to help with the caregiving

Think about who you can depend on for different tasks at different times. Get comfortable asking for help from friends and family. If family and friends aren’t able to help, consider hiring in-home care. Having outside help for day-to-day needs makes putting the time you need toward work easier. And, if something serious happens and your parent needs you , you’re still nearby.

There are many ways to pay for in-home care. Letting someone else take on some of the caregiving will make a big difference in your ability to focus on your work, so this is an important option to consider.

Alternative senior living options

Balancing being a family caregiver and working from home can help you be in a better place financially, emotionally, and professionally. However, it still may not be the best option for your family.

If you find working from home while being a caregiver is no longer possible, you have options. An assisted living community, where your loved one will have as much freedom as they’d like while still receiving the daily care and nurturing that you provide, can be a great choice.

For help with your search, reach out to an A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor for more guidance in transitioning your family member from home care to assisted living.

Sources

Courtney, E. (2021, October 8). Remote work statistics: Navigating the new normal

Golden, R. (2021, July 14). Most US employers with flexible work plans choose hybrid work, Mercer says

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal, or financial advice or to create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney, or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

Author
Michaela Kitchen

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