Friday, December 17, 2010

EAP services and resources help balance eldercare and work

ELDERCARE SUPPORT: From left, Moscowitz, Gould and Loughlin

During her 14-year career as administrative assistant at the MGH Department of Pathology, Carol Ann Gould -- like thousands of other Americans -- went through a challenging period as she juggled work while caring for her elderly parents. To make matters more complicated, Gould was in Boston while her father, who had Alzheimer's disease, was in Amarillo, Texas. When her mother in Dallas was diagnosed with cancer, she took on caring for her as well.

"It was a very difficult time," says Gould. "I had to tell my father that he no longer could use a car and that he would be moving to an assisted-living residence. While the stages of his illness became worse, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was one of the most trying times of my life."

Gould describes the flood of emotions she experienced -- anger, resentment, sadness, exhaustion and grief. She found it difficult to concentrate at work and began to suffer physically as well as emotionally from the stress. Thankfully, Gould found help managing
her own health and emotions and the logistics of caring for her parents through the resources and support available at the Partners Employee Assistance Program (EAP). She met with an EAP consultant, who then referred her to Alzheimer's disease expert Barbara Moscowitz, MSW, LICSW, program director of the MGH Geriatric Medicine Unit. Gould also attended the EAP monthly employee eldercare discussion group, facilitated by Moscowitz and eldercare expert Janet Loughlin, LICSW, CEAP. Since 2005, the group has helped employees manage a healthy work and life balance while caring for an aging loved one.

"We know that there are many employees in the workplace really struggling with caring for an elderly parent while working," says Loughlin. "In a safe, therapeutic setting, we provide expertise in eldercare and access to resources -- such as the monthly employee eldercare discussion group -- where employees can share their experiences, support one another and find helpful information for their circumstances."

Gould credits the group with providing her the support, resources and professional assistance she needed. "The employee eldercare discussion group was so helpful to me," says Gould. "There were so many different employees of all job roles -- vice presidents, physicians, nurses, administrative staff -- and we all were going through the same thing. Often group members who had helpful information shared it with the group, and the meetings gave us an opportunity to support one another when it was difficult to focus on work."

In addition to the group meetings, the EAP offers one-on-one counseling with eldercare experts. Individual consultations are confidential and free. The EAP office is located at 175 Cambridge St., Suite 320. For more information, access or call 617-726-6976 or 1-866-724-4EAP.  


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