The lived experiences of employed adults with dependent adult caregiving responsibilities
It is estimated that about 21% of the adult population provide unpaid care to a family member or friend annually who is chronically ill, disabled, or aged. Fifty nine percent of these adults are employed either full time or part time. With employment and informal caregiving, there may be competing demands on the person's physical, psychological, social and fiscal resources, depending on support at work and at home. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of people who combine compensated employment and caregiving responsibilities. The research question addressed by this study was: What are the lived experiences of employed adults with dependent adult caregiving responsibilities? The participants' perceived benefits and negative aspects of caregiving responsibilities when combined with compensated employment were examined.
Few studies were found that described the positive and negative experiences of people combining employment and caregiving. Eleven women who in the past 12 months had provided care to a relative with a chronic physical or mental illness and were employed participated in this study. Through semi-structured interviews, the women talked about their experiences. The interview transcripts were analyzed using Colaizzi (1978) qualitative phenomenological method. Using the participants' own words, seven themes were identified that included (1) doing what you have to do, (2)exhausted, (3) depression and frustration, (4) isolation, (5) personal rewards, (6) feeling torn, and (7) care coordinator and work flexibility. This study found that there are both positive and negative aspects of combining compensated employment and caregiving responsibilities. Implications for practice include: (1) assessment of the caregiver for signs and symptoms of exhaustion and depression with appropriate referrals, (2) identification of resources needed by caregiver with appropriate referrals, (3) flexible work schedules, and (4) employer benefits to include assistance with care coordination, respite, and financial planning.