Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 41: couples and family considerations 6

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on March 3, 2017

This is my 41st installment to a series on intentionally entered into, fundamental job and career path change, and on best practices for deciding both when and how to carry through on it (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 416 and following for Parts 1-40.)

I began expanding this line of discussion, from focusing on a “simplest” baseline couples-only context, to include a wider range of family members in Part 40. And I wrote of raising children, and by parents and also by grandparents there, as case in point examples of how wider reaching family support can and does impact upon and even fundamentally shape our work and career planning and its follow-through. Then I said at the end of that installment that I would turn here to consider aging parents and how addressing their needs can influence and shape our more couple’s-oriented work and career decisions – and our overall here and now life decisions too.

I begin this with the sometimes difficult and even painful process of seeing and acknowledging that our parents – who for many of us were once our pillars of strength, and certainly when we were young, coming to need our help as they age. This, however marks a turn of events that many of us come to face, and often as we are advancing in our careers and when we still have ongoing commitments to both our spouses and to our growing children.

Let’s think about this in a less abstract way, by considering at least one possible but nevertheless quite realistic scenario:

• You and your immediate nuclear family – your wife and three children are happy with your lives, but you and I add they too, see real opportunity in change. Your wife has just been given a career advancement opportunity that sounds too be so good, that none of you would want to let it pass by without trying for it. But this new job with its big career step advancement, would require her and her family – you and the kids, moving out of state.
• You know that you could land a new job yourself too, and a good one with this move. And your youngest child is heading to college in a couple of months and will be living on campus much of the year. None of your three would face anything like school dislocations, and certainly not in the middle of a school year. So this career move sounds like it would have much more of an up-side than a down-side and for everyone immediately and directly involved.
• Then your mother falls and breaks a hip and your father is in no position to be able to help her, and certainly for the full range of supportive assistance that she will now need. Both of your parents want to be able to stay in their own home, which is only a couple of miles from where you and your wife and children live now. And both of them very definitely wish to avoid their having to move to anything like an assisted living community, as they know people who have gone to nursing homes and are afraid of what that means, and both for their quality of life and for their retaining a significant measure of independence. True, assisted living facilities and the like are very different from nursing homes, and certainly from the bleak institutional facilities that your mom and dad hold fears about. But that is what they know of and that is what they fear happening to them if they leave their house and home of decades together.
• What do you do? Do you stay where you are, continuing to live near them so you can “help out”, foregoing this exciting new opportunity? Or do you take the job offer and move, and try to find alternative forms of support that your parents would find more comfortable and less threatening – with them staying in their own home of long standing? Or do you seek to find an alternative that is more in the direction of an older adults, assisted living facility, that they might find acceptable, or what? Do you even know your full range of options, or what they would variously entail?

What I am writing of here is the need to know your options. And this means thinking proactively – and not just starting to address this when a fall and fracture have already happened. And I am writing about the need to communicate, with that including you’re finding out about issues such as your parent’s fear of old age institutionalization. What is becoming more possible as an emergent challenge or even likely as one, for example when an aging parent begins to become more unsteady on their feet? Do they need grab bars in the bathroom, for example when getting in and out of a tub or shower, or better positioned railings on their stairs? What resources are available if an accident does happen, including professional home visit support, and from where and at what costs and to whom? And as a part of that point of consideration, what part of that sort of support would be covered by the health and other insurance your parents already have, and for which agencies or other sources of such assistance? This is where preemptive insight and guidance from a professional such as a geriatric health care manager can be invaluable, as an essential proactive and preparatory/preventative step.

Know the issues you face and that you might face yourself and with your spouse or significant other. Know as much as you can about the issues and the resources and the choices that you might need and that can become available, and certainly for any more likely scenarios that would call for them. And be as proactively prepared as possible while still knowing that the unexpected and unpredicted can still happen.

I have addressed the issues of children and of aging parents here. Are there any others in your wider family (e.g. a handicapped brother or sister) who might also come to depend upon you for support and in ways that could significantly impact upon your work, career or overall life planning and decision making? What I am writing about here is the need to prepare, and for specific possibilities that it would make sense for you and your spouse to prepare for. And I am writing here of doing so with a goal of achieving and maintaining a more general flexibility and adaptability in what you can do, and comfortably for you and your family. And I am writing about not getting a phone call late one evening to find out that a possibility that you had never even considered, but that in retrospect should have been obvious, has just happened – such as that fall and fracture, that planning for might have even prevented.

I am going to turn in my next series installment to consider long-term and immediate crisis health and other life changing events in a family, framing that narrative in primarily couples terms. As we age: ourselves and our spouse or significant other, we can all expect to at least eventually come to these challenges and certainly if we remain together in an ongoing committed relationship. And I will at least briefly discuss resources that can be developed and made available to limit longer-term deleterious impact.

• When I write of jobs, I of necessity do so from the wider and longer-term context of careers and career paths. When I write here of careers and career paths, I of necessity do so from the wider and longer-term context of our overall lives and those of our immediately connected and actively involved families – at the very least. So any discussion of this type has to allow for and include consideration of that wider life context too. And that is what I have been doing here and it is what I will continue doing in my next installment to this series, too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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