When being employed and caring for a loved one with dementia becomes too difficult to manage

How can you provide your elderly loved one with support while holding down a job? It’s key to seek help in and outside of work.

Carers UK claims that there are five million people in the UK juggling being a family carer with paid employment. Watching your elderly parent live with dementia and seeing their condition progress can cause concerns. Not only do you worry for your loved one’s health, you wonder how you can manage both caring responsibilities and work.

Feeling exhausted, anxious and unwell are all common symptoms for family carers who are feeling burnt out. It’s easy to feel like you’re not giving everything to the role at home or at work, and even that you might be failing your nearest and dearest.

It’s a difficult balancing act, but you can perform both roles well with some support. Having a positive state of mind will mean that your family member is being looked after by a safe, loving pair of hands

Know where you stand legally 

It helps to understand your legal position as an employee that has caring responsibilities outside of work. 

Everyone has the right to request flexible working if they have been with the same employer for 26 weeks, as long as they haven’t already made a flexible working request over the past 12 months. It should be made in writing and include details of the revised working pattern you would like, how you think this may affect the organisation you work for and how you think you can make it a success. Employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting this request.

But there might be no need to seek a different working pattern. It might be that your employer just needs to understand why you can’t apply yourself all of the time. You can achieve this by having an open conversation with them about your life at home; you may even find that they offer to help.

When being employed and caring for a loved one with dementia becomes too difficult to manage

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

Sometimes even the most caring employer isn’t enough support for someone with a loved one living with dementia. It can be an emotionally challenging process that takes its toll on your own physical and mental health. Very often, a visit to your GP is the best place to start. They can decide on the best course of action, whether that’s mild anti-depressants or a course of counselling. 

Don’t be afraid to go directly to a private counsellor or therapist; some of them might have experiences of working with people who have the issues you are facing. Many offer a free consultation so you can see whether you think they’re the right person to support you.

Local carers’ organisations have support groups for family members going through what you are facing. Meeting others in the same situation is a reminder that you are not alone and your struggles are not unique to you. Together, you can share advice on how to cope.

Balancing caring responsibilities with a job is a challenge faced by many. And for that reason, there is support for you out there, whether it’s from your employer or through professional help. Keep reminding yourself how selfless you are by taking on two responsibilities that require constant commitment and time.