Mother and daughterDid you know that 86% of women over age 50 think that they may need to use family-friendly policies?  Are you one of these women?  While many family friendly policies are used by young women for child-bearing or child-rearing, there is a growing need to provide support for family care responsibilities involving the other end of the lifespan – our aging parents.  A recent NIH-funded study of UCDHS faculty UC Davis study led by your colleagues Amparo Villablanca and Lydia Howell has found that 43% of UCDMC faculty members report family care responsibilities that are not related to child care.

“My daughters are grown, but my need to provide care to my family continues,” says Lydia Howell.  “My father is very disabled with Parkinson disease and dementia, and my mother is the primary caregiver.  I’m not nearby to help, so I fly to visit them almost once a month.   The more I talk to my faculty colleagues, I realize that there are many like me – trying to balance career obligations and find time to support loved ones both near and far.  This is a national dilemma, and hardest on women since women are traditionally the caregivers in our culture.” 

WIMHS recently hosted a lunch workshop “Balancing Elder and Family Care and a Faculty Career: Work-Life Integration is Not Just About Childcare” in order to explore these unique issues and to provide an opportunity to develop support systems among faculty colleagues.  The panel discussion facilitated by Amparo Villablanca, M.D. included several faculty members who shared their experiences and insights from caring for aging parents.

Esther Lara, who serves as a Clinical Social Worker and Research Administrator at the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, was also on the panel.  She provided the following specific suggestions for individuals caring for their parents:

  • Address legal issues (power of attorney, advance care directives etc.) with your family members ahead of time.  The ARAG legal insurance offered to UC employees can often be helpful in these efforts.
  • Develop a support system.  In addition to siblings, friends and family, there are many other resources available.  See the links below to locate certified senior care advisors, in-home health and companion care, or simply help with housekeeping and other domestic duties.
  • Take care of yourself too.  Make time to continue the activities that you enjoy, so that you can balance care for your parents with your own needs.

As one attendee put it, “there seem to be as many solutions as there are problems”, but the spirited and honest discussion made it clear that the attendees appreciated the opportunity to connect and share with others experiencing similar dilemmas.   The group wants to meet again, and WIMHS will be working with Faculty Development to create quarterly workshops and faculty support groups to address specific elder care related issues.

What do you think — are you experiencing work-life challenges related to elder care?  Do you have advice to share, questions to pose, or ideas for future workshops or meetings?  Post a comment below to help us shape our activities on this important topic…

Resources:

Select Plus (formerly Sittercity) – The cost of membership is paid by the University of California and is completely free to you. You pay only for the services of the caregivers your hire. Activate your membership:

https://www.sittercity.com/register_corp_1.html?corp=universityofcalifornia&client=93

 

Eldercare Locater – A public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging connecting you to services for older adults and their families:

http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx

 

National Institute on Aging – Provides a wide variety of research-based information and resources related to health and aging:

http://www.nia.nih.gov/

 

National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers-Can make home visit suggest needed services and help get the services:

http://www.caremanager.org

 

You can find more information about what is covered by Medicare Part A, B, and D:

http://www.medicare.gov

 

Medicaid, also known as Medi-Cal in California, is a combined Federal and State program for low-income people and families.  Medical will pay the cost of some types of long-term care for some people and their families. You must meet certain financial requirements.

http://www.medicaid.gov

 

The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may provide long-term care for some veterans.  Services could have a waiting list for VA nursing homes.  The VA also provides some at-home care:

http://www.va.gov/health

 

For information on older drivers, how to start a conversation and how to analyze an driver safety:

http://www.thehartford.com/advance50/family-conversations-with-older-drivers