There was a time in 65-year-old Linda Loveall’s life that she was the primary caregiver for both of her parents.
Her mother had health problems due to having polio as a child, while her father suffered from prostate cancer. Loveall cared for them for 11 years.
But the stress of caring for her parents and working full time was wearing on Loveall, who had rising blood pressure, trouble sleeping and was gaining weight.
“The care was so extreme that (my mother’s doctor) said, ‘You’re gonna die before your mom — you need to get some help or change your situation,’” Loveall remembered.
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For many people who are caring for their parents while balancing work and their own families, it’s not an uncommon thing to hear, said Loveall, who lives on the border of Tacoma and Puyallup.
She now works as a client care coordinator for the Home Instead Senior Care office in Tacoma, which provides in-home caregiving. Loveall hears from many who are in the same position as she was — and who need some help.
Having (to choose between) the fear of losing your job or putting your parents or loved ones where you don’t want to put them is very challenging.
“Having (to choose between) the fear of losing your job or putting your parents or loved ones where you don’t want to put them is very challenging,” Loveall said.
In order to help those who are balancing caregiving and work, Home Instead launched a Daughters in the Workplace program last month, which offers free resources to working family caregivers. While its research has found that women make up two-thirds of family caregivers, Daughters in the Workplace supports all types of caregivers.
The main goal of the program is to educate caregivers on how they can help family members while maintaining their own personal health.
“Caregivers around the world are the second victims — caregiving is tough work,” said Lois Etienne, a registered nurse and franchise owner of the Home Instead Tacoma office. “We try to get people to understand that you still have to be you. You still have to have a life and you can't feel guilty for some of the decisions you have to make.”
Caregivers around the world are the second victims — caregiving is tough work. We try to get people to understand that you still have to be you. You still have to have a life and you can't feel guilty for some of the decisions you have to make.
Lois Etienne, franchise owner of the Home Instead Tacoma office
The program encourages caregivers to talk to their employers, and works to educate employers about caregiver needs as well. DaughtersintheWorkplace.com provides an interactive quiz that teaches users their protected family leave rights.
In July, Washington state guaranteed paid family leave, which makes it even more important for caregivers to talk to their employers, Etienne said.
“If (caregivers) open up to their employers, depending on their personal situation, they’ll make it work,” Loveall said.
If (caregivers) open up to their employers, depending on their personal situation, they’ll make it work.
In 2004, Loveall’s father passed away. She left her job as a communications liaison at World Vision, where she traveled constantly, to care for her mother, who passed in 2008. She started working with Home Instead in 2012.
Etienne opened the Home Instead office in 1996. She spent years as a caregiver herself, flying to and from Ohio to care for her mom, who had lymphoma, and her father, who had a brain tumor.
For both Loveall and Etienne, being educated in resources and finding help is the best thing caregivers can do.
“Letting someone come in and help you is very beneficial. Don’t carry the load yourself,” Loveall said.
“The big thing is the power of knowledge — and knowing that you’re not alone is huge,” added Etienne.