The cost to U.S. businesses from the lost productivity of working caregivers is more than $33 billion per year, according to the
MetLife Caregiving Cost Study
"Productivity Losses to U.S. Business."
Companies that will thrive in the future will adapt to this reality by implementing or strengthening policies and practices that improve boththe bottom line and the lives of employee caregivers.
Survey Shows Elder Care a Growing Concern for Adults Balancing Work and Family
WATERTOWN, Mass., March 29, 2013 — /PRNewswire/ -- According to a recent study of more than 5,000 U.S. workers, mid-career employees have become increasingly dependent on employer-sponsored back-up elder care programs. This increase in demand for elder care mirrors the increase in the number of people providing care to an aging relative – more than 40 million people had responsibility for an elder's care in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Lasting Impact of Employer-Sponsored Back-up Care, a study conducted by Horizons Workforce Consulting and Russell Matthews, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University, confirms that working men and women ages 40 to 60 are embracing elder care supports in order to focus and remain productive at work while feeling confident that their aging parent – or spouse – has access to quality care.
Sandwich Generation employees, those who care for their aging parents while also supporting their own young children, are particularly impacted. Roughly one out of every eight Americans between the ages of 40 and 60 fall into this group, according to the Pew Research Institute, and between 7 million and 10 million Americans are providing care for their aging parents from afar with little or no back-up support in the case of an emergency.
"The tensions of child care, elder care, and work make the Sandwich Generation most prone to acute caregiver stress. Not only are they overwhelmed trying to balance their careers with the demands of parenthood but also with the responsibility of caring for their own aging parents. When they have breakdowns in their normal support systems, it can seem near impossible to manage it all," said David Lissy, Bright Horizons Chief Executive Officer. "Having access to quality back-up care for children and adult relatives can go a long way toward alleviating stress for these employees and reducing absenteeism and loss of productivity for their employers." The Lasting Impact of Employer-Sponsored Back-up Care study surveyed employees who used Bright Horizons' Back-up Care Advantage Program® within the past six months. Of the respondents with adult/elder care responsibilities:
Two-thirds are providing daily living support for an adult relative.
Three-quarters are providing health-related supports for their aging family members.
Nearly 100% said that having an elder care benefit like the Back-Up Care Advantage Program has provided them with a level of comfort and increased their productivity.
Nearly 70% of those surveyed who used the elder care benefit said that this benefit has allowed them to work on a day they would have otherwise missed, and, on average, having access to adult back-up care has allowed employees to work six days in the past six months that they otherwise would have missed.
80% of care for older adults in the U.S. is provided by their families.
An estimated 44% of caregiving daughters and 55% of caregiving sons are employed. These statistics suggest that many adult children caring for their parents have family and work obligations that may conflict with caregiving responsibilities.
Caregiving is a time-consuming responsibility which inflicts various limitations on the caregiver's personal life. Confinement has been cited as the most stressful infringement on the caregiver's lifestyle. Role conflict resulting from the competing demands of the care recipient, other family obligations, and employment responsibilities are often a major complaint of caregivers.
A majority of working caregivers have reported experiencing a conflict between work and caregiving demands, and 35% believed that being a caregiver adversely affected their work.
Employed caregivers report family conflict and the loss of friends and activities as a result of caregiving. The emotional and physical strains of caregiving often lead to deterioration in the caregiver's own health. Although caregivers report physical, financial, and family strains associated with caregiving, the most negative consequences of caregiving on caregivers seem to be the emotional strain of caregiver burdens.
Eldercare fast becoming an issue in workplace by Rex Huppert, Chicago Tribune
Some troubling statistics recently landed in my email inbox: The number of U.S. workers who are caring for one or both of their parents has tripled in the last 15 years. According to one recent study, there are nearly 10 million adult children over 50 years old responsible for an aging parent, and companies are losing upward of $17 billion a year due to absenteeism and other factors relating to caregiving.
With the boomer generation not getting any younger, this is a rapidly swelling issue that should be of immense concern to companies across the country. But it doesn’t seem many are paying attention.
“I think we have a stigma about aging in this country, and I don’t think anybody ever thought we’d have to be dealing with this situation,” said Cindy Laverty, a caregiving coach and founder of The Care Company, which works with individuals and advocates for working caregiver rights. “It used to be that people died in their 70s. Now they’re dying in their 90s and 100s. So we have people who are either leaving the workforce to go take care of a loved one or they’re missing a lot of days of work, taking unpaid leaves of absence, and it’s adding up.”
As is often the case in the workplace, the heart of the problem here is a lack of communication. Companies are not considering the fact that they might have workers who need to care for a parent or other adult relative, and employees aren’t letting companies know what they need in order to balance work and these outside responsibilities.
“People don’t usually have pictures of their parents or grandparents on their desks, so it’s not a normative behavior — it’s not completely accepted,” said Gail Hunt, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, which recently published a report called “Best Practices in Workplace Eldercare.” “And so some people are afraid to seek help or flexibility from work. They worry that when the time comes for promotions or for layoffs, people will remember that they were the person who took the time off to take their mom to physical therapy.”
It’s a shame anyone would have to fear how an employer might judge them for taking care of a relative. There are limits, of course, but in this era of connectivity and telecommuting, it seems there’s little reason why workers can’t establish a level of flexibility that makes caregiving workable.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if corporate America could work with the individual person who’s just trying to do the right thing by their parents?” Laverty said. “Wouldn’t it be great if we started to change the way we view this subject, knowing that it’s going to happen to everyone? Caregiving doesn’t discriminate. It’s going to happen to the CEO, the vice president, down to middle management and the worker. And it takes an emotional toll.”
The good news is that there are some relatively simple steps companies can take to make life better for employees who have caregiving responsibilities.
Raising the issue is the logical first step. Ask employees what the company can do to provide support. Consider bringing in people from local agencies who are familiar with the caregiving services and support groups that are available.
“People don’t realize that there are millions of other caregivers out there, and they feel so alone,” Hunt said. “They feel like they’re the only person struggling.”
The next key is offering workers some flexibility. I believe that if you trust your employees, if you show a willingness to help them work through the demands of family life, that trust will be paid back both in productivity and loyalty.
“When I talk to caregivers, they want to do the right thing,” Laverty said. “They want to work, they want to take care of their loved ones. They just don’t know how to do it.”
None of this requires any significant investment on the part of a company.
Of course workers can’t just sit around and wait for their employers to bring up the subject of adult caregiving.
Have a conversation with your boss or manager, explain your caregiving situation and see if there’s a mutually agreeable way to make sure your work hours are spent focused on work and not worrying or feeling guilty about other obligations.
To not give workers the support they need to care for their aging loved ones goes against our better nature.
Yet there are millions out there — and there are millions more to come — who are stressed and exhausted, worried about their jobs, guilty that they aren’t doing all they can for their moms or dads.
If you’re one of those people, speak up, and seek out others whose shared experiences might help you out. And if you’re an employer, speak up, and see if there aren’t people in your company, people you see every day, who could benefit from an easily extended helping han
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Rex Huppke writes for the Chicago Tribune. Send him questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our clients benefit from the BSCA’s collaborative model of care that meets the holistic needs of each individual and his or her specific situation.
Members of the alliance offer our clients access to the highest quality providers in their respective fields.
Boston Senior Care Alliance (BSCA). We are a group of professionals who have come together to offer a diverse range of services to effectively meet the needs of older adults effectively and their family members. We conveniently bring together the resources needed to help older adults and their families manage changes in their lives. Our clients benefit from working with the members of the BSCA as a result of our collaborative model to meet the holistic needs of each individual and his/her specific situation. We have selected the members of the alliance to enable our clients to connect with highest quality providers in their field. You can rest assured that each one of our members practices with the utmost integrity, and caring concern
Eldercare Professionals: Offer the Elder Life Planning Program in your Community
Eldercare professionals such as geriatric care managers, elder law attorneys, home care providers, health care facilities directors, financial advisers, clinical social workers, and nurses can provide these services to banks, employers and labor unions in the communities you serve.
To find out how your elder services organization can offer this low cost benefit to businesses in the communities you serve click here
Email Us or call Bob O’Toole at 1-800-375-0595.
THE IMPACT OF ELDER CAREGIVING ON THE WORKPLACE
Addressing caregiver support issues in the workplace is not just a benevolent response; it’s smart business. The AARP reports that companies reap a $3-$14 return on every $1 they spend on eldercare benefits.
As more employees remain in the labor force and their parents live longer, businesses have begun stepping up to help overwhelmed workers better balance their professional and family responsibilities.
Companies are finding eldercare help to be timely insurance, because both employers and employees benefit when workers have options that make caregiving more manageable. No wonder eldercare benefits and flexible work arrangements are fast becoming a potent recruiting and retention tool.
As of 2007, 33% of large companies offered basic eldercare benefits, as do 25% of all businesses. Most take the form of resource materials and referrals services, unpaid leaves of absence, dependent care flexible-spending accounts, counseling, or back-up elder care.
Facts and Figures About America's Aging Workforce
Warner, D. F., Hayward, M. D., & Hardy, M. A. (2010). The retirement life course in America at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Population Research and Policy Review, 29(6), 893-919. doi:10.1007/s11113-009-9173-2
Courtesy of National Institute on Aging
Long-distance caregiving takes many forms—from helping manage the money to arranging for in-home care; from providing respite care for a primary caregiver to helping a parent move to a new home or facility. Many long-distance caregivers act as information coordinators, helping aging parents understand the confusing maze of home health aides, insurance benefits, and durable medical equipment.
Caregiving is often a long-term task. What may start out as an occasional social phone call to share family news can eventually turn into regular phone calls about managing health insurance claims, getting medical information, and arranging for respite services. What begins as a monthly trip to check on Mom may turn into a larger project to move her to a nursing facility close to your home.
If you are a long-distance caregiver, you are not alone. Approximately 7 million adults are long-distance caregivers, mostly caring for aging parents who live an hour or more away. Historically, caregivers have been primarily mid-life, working women who have other family responsibilities. That’s changing. More and more men are becoming caregivers; in fact, men now represent over 40 percent of caregivers. Clearly, anyone, anywhere can be a long-distance caregiver. Gender, income, age, social status, employment—none of these prevent you from taking on caregiving responsibilities.