Caregivers selflessly jump in to support loved ones during times of loved ones health crises. The journey of care can last months, years, or even decades. Given the devotion of caregivers it is not surprising that many put their own careers, health and wellness on the backburner.
When I suddenly jumped into the role as primary family caregiver in 2009 after my father had a catastrophic heart failure incident, I put all other aspects of my life aside to squarely focus on the support needs for both of my elder parents. Fortunately, I built up significant savings through 20 years in the workforce to be able to put aside my career for the short-term. Many caregivers are not in that position and can end up impoverishing themselves during their caregiving journeys.
Women especially are known not to abandon their caregiving responsibilities because of employment. Instead, they cope to the best of their abilities with the combined pressures of caring for a loved one(s), their need for income, reliance on often inadequate public programs and fewer employment-related benefits.
The recent great recession resulted in much job loss. During this time, many displaced workers (both men and women) took on primary caregiving roles within their families, often providing care to multiple family members such as children and elder parents. The financial impact of the great recession and caregiving have left many caregivers not only in short term financial strain but have created precarious retirement situations.
Meanwhile, a positive impact of the great recession has been the increase of former corporate workers entering the entrepreneurial world. There are many caregivers who are finding new ways to generate income through self-employment while serving in the family caregiving role.
I, and many other caregivers, have started home based business that offer the flexibility to set one’s own hours to care for loved ones and earn money through personal skills and talents. In my journey as a caregiver coach, I have been heartened to connect with many caregivers running on-line businesses selling some amazing products and services such as art work, clothing, crafts, jewelry, and health and wellness products. Bottom line – caregivers are determined and strong with the power to create their own destiny and safeguard their future, well-deserved retirement.