Dear Benefits & Welfare: Caregiving and prescription monitoring taking a toll

The Senate Benefits and Welfare committee wants to make sure Pitt employees know about the services available to them. While the questions in Ask Benefits and Welfare are made up (for now), the answers are definitely real and filled with useful information. If you have your own questions, send them to and we’ll forward them to the committee. Note that this monthly column is not produced or approved by the Office of Human Resources; it is entirely the responsibility of the Senate Benefits and Welfare committee.


Dear Benefits and Welfare Committee:

I can tell already that I’m going to be working at Pitt until the day I die. By the way, I feel like I might drop dead at any minute. I’m exhausted — completely drained physically and mentally.

It all started three years ago when my husband developed a chronic serious illness that involves body fluids, increasing discomfort and a lot of medicine. The medicine copayments are really adding up, and I can’t even keep track of his medicine because so many different doctors have been prescribing and changing what he’s supposed to take. And I can’t keep interrupting my work to tend to him.

My work-life balance consists of job tasks and caregiving tasks. I feel like I’m running on a hamster wheel. Help me!

Carrying Everything in Carrick

Dear Carrying:

Relief is on the way! The Comprehensive Medication Management (CMM) program at the University Pharmacy will help you get those prescriptions organized and will review the various side effects and interactions between your husband’s medications. The pharmacist might even help you phrase some questions for the doctors. Email for an appointment.

Since the condition is evolving, don’t fill any new prescriptions for specialty medications until you check with the UPMC SaveOnSP site to see if you can get any of those meds for free. Save money by paying for meds and modalities with your Flexible Spending Account and do some healthy lifestyle activities so that UPMC Health Plan will put money in your Health Incentives Account to help pay for those meds and modalities.

It sounds like you could use a back-up caregiver. Pitt contracts with for deeply discounted adult caregiving services. The discount is only for 10 days, but maybe if you spread those out over a few weeks you’ll feel less pressured.

Have you seen the resource list at yet? It is very practical. Have you taken advantage of free caregiver counseling from Life Solutions? You might also ascertain whether a flexible work arrangement is feasible for your department and your particular job.

And, if you need time off for caregiving, remember that Family and Medical Leave Act time doesn’t have to be used in one lump; you can use it in whatever configuration works for you and your department. We care about you Carrying Everything in Carrick!

Very truly,

The Benefits and Welfare Committee