Ask Denise: Will I Have the Right Skills for Employment?

Dear Denise,

I’m in my early 50s and taking care of my mom. Lately, I’ve been worrying about what I will do after my mom is gone. I know I have to get a job, but am worried that I don’t have the skills needed to find one.

I suppose it’s not a good idea to worry today about tomorrow… But, I am worried. Any suggestions?


I’m not a proponent of worrying, either. I think planning ahead is a great idea. So, rather than worry, let’s plan ahead.

For several years, Marilyn, a former member of one of our online support groups, volunteered to moderate two of our groups. As a moderator, she gained skills she later leveraged when she began her job hunt after her mother’s death. More importantly, as a volunteer, she could use me as a reference during her search.

So, my best suggestion is to get involved with an issue or organization of interest to you. If volunteering outside the house is too difficult, then look for opportunities online. I’m always looking for volunteers as I’m sure are many organizations with an online presence. The key to volunteering is to pick an organization you like and find a position that will hone existing skills while adding new ones.

My other suggestion would be to get involved with social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter. Gaining social networking skills may be helpful in the eyes of future employees—organizations are looking for employees who understand the in’s and out’s of social networking. So, for instance, perhaps you can volunteer for an organization and get involved in its Facebook fan page or in sending out tweets on its behalf.

A few other suggestions:

–Check out the course catalog at your local community college. What classes can you take?

–Check out curriculum of online colleges and universities. (We have suggestions in this article, part of our special section on Getting Out and Socializing)

–Research the companies you’d like to work for in the future; follow their progress through articles in magazines and newspapers

–Write a classified ad for a job you’d love to have. What skills do you need to be a qualified applicant for this dream job? How can you acquire these skills?

You have honed incredible skills as your mom’s caregiver. Think about all you do: You manage, organize, direct, prioritize, lead, advocate and teach. You can apply these skills to any career you’d like. Now’s the time to really think about who and what you want to be. The sky’s the limit.

We’ll soon be adding Think Tanks, four weekly teleclasses for family caregivers in similar situations who feel stuck and want to be unstuck. We’ll include a Think Tank called Future Me; we’ll focus on the future you want to create, including future careers. We’ll post more information about our Think Tanks in the coming weeks.

Stumped by an on-going struggle? Searching for meaning in your journey? You’re not alone!

Family caregivers ask Denise M. Brown, Editor and Publisher,, for her insights and suggestions to their caregiving conundrums. Have a question for Denise? Just e-mail her. Denise will do her best to answer questions within 24 hours.

If you or your care recipient are in a crisis, we urge you to call a health care professional immediately for assistance. Denise only provides general insights about general situations. You should always consult your own lawyer, financial planner, health care professional and other professional advisors for advice specific to your situation.

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4 Comments on "Ask Denise: Will I Have the Right Skills for Employment?"

Sep 1, 2009

We are finding that many of the students in our online master’s and graduate certificate programs in aging studies come to us after having been in the position of caregiver. We frequently hear that caring for an aging parent is one of the hardest — and most meaningful — things a person has done. Several of our students, once their caregiving role came to an end, wanted to continue working with older adults. In addition to checking out our website, you might visit to learn about the possibilities that exist in the aging field.

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Sep 1, 2009

Amy—-So glad you shared this! Marilyn, who I reference above, returned to school for her Master’s degree in Gerontology. And, Gary, one of our family caregivers who blogs, recently started a similar Master’s degree program. The experience of family caregiving, I believe, completes its circle when the former family caregiver understands how to implement lessons learned into the next phase of the lives. The “Godspeed” family caregivers make life a little bit easier for the next class of family caregivers. It’s one of the beauties of the experience.

Sep 1, 2009

Thank you so much for this information. I think about this all the time. I have been caregiving so long, I can’t think of anything else I could do.

Sep 20, 2009

An angel led me to your website. This question and answer posting meant so very much to me. Thank you.