Meet a Working Family Caregiver: Chris Gunderson

Chris_Mike_3.10.14

Chris_Mike_3.10.14(Editor’s Note: As part of our Hire a Family Caregiver campaign, I’ll introduce you to working family caregivers. We begin our series today by profiling Chris, a member of CareGiving.com who cares for her husband. You can connect with her on her profile, @oscargal, and her blog.)

When I wrote 10 Reasons Family Caregivers Make Awesome Employees, I thought of the family caregivers I know who work, especially Chris Gunderson. Chris volunteers to help me by managing our Facebook fan page two days every week. She’s made such a difference to our page–she shares great content, she replies to messages left by our fans and engages our fans with compelling questions. She’s simply a joy to work with.

Chris cares for her husband, Mike; they’ve been married for 10 1/2 years. Mike has a genetic blood disorder that leads to DVTs as well as a spinal injury. They¬† have two dogs and a cat to keep them on our toes. “I am usually kept busy enough taking care of Mike in helping him with his foot and wound care as well as working full time,” she says.

I’m delighted to share Chris’s story today; my questions and her answers follow.

CareGiving.com: We often hear that caregiving responsibilities negatively impact productivity in the workplace. How do you think your caregiving experience has made you more productive?

Chris: My caregiving experience has made me more productive by helping me develop a variety of skills. I am better at prioritizing, organizing, documenting and asking questions to clarify. Also, I am able to function better under stress, such as tight deadlines.

CareGiving.com: You were upfront about your caregiving responsibilities when you were looking for a job. Why was this important for you to do?

Chris: This was important for me as it allowed me to be open with my employer from the get-go. I looked at it from the stand point of, If parents talk about their children with their employer, why can’t I talk about who I take care of, as well?

CareGiving.com: What is the best part of your job?

Chris: Besides the team I work with, I would have to say having full medical benefits. I’m not sure we’d be able to function without them.

CareGiving.com: What advice would you offer to another working family caregiver?

Chris: I would tell them to leave work at work and home at home. Sometimes that is easier said than done but you need to be able to separate the two or you’ll drive yourself crazy.

CareGiving.com: What suggestions would you offer employers that can help their employees with caregiving responsibilities?

Chris: I would suggest split shifts if possible to allow for time to get to appointments without losing hours in a workday. Or allow for tele-work, if possible, if an employee needs to be close to the home front.

(Tell us your story; share your experiences about your life as a working family caregiver.)

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