12/15/2014 01:27 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST

Maintaining Your Career Skills While Caregiving

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Over eight-million Canadians currently provide care for chronically ill or disabled friends and family members. If you're a caregiver, you know how demanding it can be. Your role as a caregiver, can greatly interfere with all other aspects of your life. Becoming a caregiver may be unexpected, requiring you to put your life on hold.

One key area this transition typically affects is one's ability to maintain their career. In some cases, caregiving requires full-time hours, meaning that something has to give. The transition from a full-time job to your role as a full-time caregiver can be overwhelming. Although you may feel as though your career is being negatively affected, there are ways to keep your career skills sharp.

Current Trends Which Require Attention

Due to current demographic trends, the issue of caregiving is more urgent than ever. This is because:

1. The baby boomer generation is currently at the age where caregiving is required. Also, this aging population will need care in the near future.

2. We are now living longer than ever before. This has resulted in more age-related diseases. Many individuals are currently suffering from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, strokes, and more. These diseases require high levels of care and attention.

3. The average hospital stay has been shortened, meaning that more care is needed at home. Who provides this care? Often family members, who need to transition from their current role in the workforce.

4. The has been a shift within the workforce regarding women. More women are directly involved in the workforce than ever before, making them less available to caregiver (as they are traditionally the caregivers of both elderly individuals and children).

Keep Your Skills Sharp While Providing Care

Although some individuals become resentful, this is the last thing you want to do. You will only hurt your own well-being, while negatively affecting the level of care you provide. We live in the information age, where there are more resources and tools offered to us than ever before.

Just because you left your current position, doesn't mean that it's the only option for you. In fact, many people stay in dead-end jobs, simply because it's what they know. When you're comfortable in a position, why wouldn't you stay? With that being said, there are plenty of more opportunities out there.

If you've currently left your job to be a caregiver, take a deep breath. Everything will be OK, as there are ways to make a positive impact on your situation. The following tips will allow you to keep your skills sharp, while you care for your loved one.

1. Schedule Effectively: There's no reason why your professional skills need to fade away. Make yourself and your skills a priority. When you continually focus on your skills and your greater purpose, you will feel more fulfilled. In order to take time for yourself, developing and maintaining your skills; you'll need to schedule it into your routine. Schedule this portion of your day, just as you would an appointment. When you dedicate a portion of each day to your skills and future, you can boost positive emotions. After all, feeling fulfilled is an essential aspect of caregiving. If you're not happy, how can you provide the best possible care?

2. Go Back to the Drawing Board: As mentioned, you are not restricted to your last job. There are other avenues that can be explored. In order to do so, you'll need to narrow down your interests. Instead of looking at caregiving as an end to your career, why not look at it as a possible change in direction? You can learn new skills, as you explore a new path. This can be extremely exciting. With access to online courses, books, and podcasts, you can learn so much within the comfort of home. You can develop skills, WHILE you take care of your loved one. One incredible route is starting your own business. Think about what you're passionate about. Could you potentially turn this into a career?

3. Select, Then Research: Make a list of a few possible career outlets. These can include opportunities within the industry you were in before you began caregiving, or you can explore new options. Start with no more than two or three subjects. Once you've narrowed it down, start researching. What will be required of you? Do you need to learn new, specific skills? How much time is needed to start? Will you require any extra funding? These are all great areas to start your research.

4. Explore At-Home Careers: There are more and more people staying home regarding their career. This increase is independent of caregiving, as there are great opportunities out there. Due to advances in technology, there are more positions regarding stay-at-home careers. Whether you enjoy or are skilled in graphic design, writing, telecommuting, or business; there's so many options. By taking this step, you can earn money, while you care for your loved one.

Becoming a caregiver doesn't mean you need to sacrifice your career. In fact, it can force you to leave a job that brought you little satisfaction, as you explore other avenues. If you're able to work from home for instance, you can make money, while you provide the best possible care. If you're worried about finances or your lack of fulfillment, explore your options today.


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