I wanted to hit on this subject because I recently had to share my story with my boss and colleague. The experience was positive; although, I rambled a lot… Still, I am very fortunate. I work with some incredibly supportive, lovely people and they were compassionate and kind.
I realized after my bout of verbal vomit, some tips might be helpful when confronted with this kind of confession. I spoke with Sandra Gonzales, Family Care Consultant and Latino Outreach Specialist with the Alzheimer’s Association, Desert Southwest Chapter.
In terms of when to tell your employer, it’s usually good to tell him/her sooner rather than later. Depending on your work environment, some employers can be quite understanding and flexible. For optimal planning, it’s also a good idea to find out about Family Medical Leave plans and other time off options early on. When you do meet with your employer, it can be helpful to provide some basic AD materials to him /her.
There is no need to provide too much personal information. The important thing is to convey the fact that AD doesn’t only affect the afflicted person. It greatly impacts the lives of the caregivers, such as yourself.
The information you provide would include:
1) Your loved ones’ diagnosis
2) A brief indication of your loved ones’ needs, only in as far as how they could impact your work practices, and lastly
3) Your request for the consideration of your specific needs and subsequent changes (i.e. time flexibility and scheduling). It’s important to be prepared with solutions to those situations. At times, you may seek a compromise and this requires give and take from both sides. The desired result would be one without sides, one where both, employer and employee, work together to support each other during this Alzheimer’s epidemic.