March 19, 2018

Family Caregivers Have Option for Using FMLA

According to a recent study by the National Alliance for Caregivers and AARP, family members spend an average of 24.4 hours per week providing care to a loved one. In addition, one out of four spends at least 40 hours a week as a caregiver.  The ever increasing issue is that many of these family caregivers also hold down a full time job outside the home.

Families are often trying to hold off or eliminate the need for nursing home placement for aging parents.  However, they may end up putting their own jobs at risk due to numerous days off required for caregiving needs.  Caring for an aging parent is similar to the same scenarios as young families with small children calling for them to take off work for illnesses, doctor appointments or other reasons. In this situation, applying for use of the Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA can protect their jobs where available.

Most people consider FMLA as being for their own personal illness, birth of a child or for use during a terminal illness of an immediate family member.  However, critical life events such as increasing caregiving responsibilities are also provided for a spouse, child or parent.  The Federal Act applies to companies with 50 or employees, all public agencies, and public & private schools.  Up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid, job-protected leave is available per year where obtainable. It is not necessary to take the time off consecutively so many choose to apply for leave and use for particular days when needed to protect their employment.

While loss of wages for some of these days can be a hardship, most caregivers cannot afford to lose their employment altogether; therefore FMLA is a very important option to consider if available.

UAMS Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program offers family caregiver workshops for free across the state to assist family caregivers who are providing unpaid care to a family member.  Physical skills workshops as well as a special workshop for Dementia caregivers are available.  Taking a few hours to learn more about safety issues, skin care, mobility, caregiver stress, understanding behaviors, etc will provide a  wealth of knowledge for anyone who is challenged as a family caregiver.

Please  refer to our calendar of events for upcoming workshops.  Click on the UAMScaregiving.org homepage for other locations around the state.

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