It’s no secret that with people living longer, there continues to be an increase in family caregiving for parents and other loved ones. This trend also has a domino effect on the impact in the workplace. Just take a look at the following statistics:
• 61 percent of family caregivers over the age of 50 are employed, (50 percent full-time and 11 percent part-time). – National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP, Caregiving in the U.S.
• 64 percent of workers with eldercare responsibilities most commonly arrive late, leave early or take off time during the day to provide care, 17 percent are reported taking a leave of absence and 9 percent have to go from full-time to part-time work. – National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP, Caregiving in the U.S.
• 19 percent left the workplace entirely because of having to care for a spouse or other family member. – Employee Benefit Research Institute, The 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey.
These challenges will continue to rise. By 2020, one in three total U.S. households is expected to be involved with caring for an elderly relative, up from one in four today.
ELDERCARE VERSUS CHILDCARE
Even with this ongoing increase in working family caregivers, some might say that it is not too different than childcare while the baby boomers were born between the years 1946 and 1964. Let me tell you some of the key differences:
1. The beginning of eldercare and the duration is unpredictable. This can come on suddenly and often involves many family members.
2. The physical demands on eldercare can be greater since it may include intimate personal assistance of activities of daily living like bathing or toileting for a grown adult.
3. The financial costs for eldercare can add to the strain of caregiving and the effects it has on one’s job.
4. The distance between where the adult child and parents live adds to the stress and complications associated with logistics, additional expenses and the job when long-distance travel is involved.
5. Having a number of family members involved can lead to disagreements among siblings and these emotions can play a significant role when caring for a parent.
WHAT SHOULD FAMILIES DO?
Talking about your children and showing pictures of them on Smart Phones are commonplace today. Showing pictures of your elderly parents who need care is not an everyday thing. Some years back when you heard that someone died in their 70’s, it was not a big surprise. Now, the comment would be, “he (she) was so young!” Today, we hear more about people living until their late 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s.
Unfortunately, most people don’t want to face the fact that their family members are aging and may someday need care. Both the parents and adult children would rather not think about it. Since most are living longer because they are beating heart disease, cancer and other diseases, families have to change and openly discuss the facts and plan appropriately. By discussing financial matters, Durable Power of Attorney, insurance matters, parent’s wishes (if family cannot provide the hands-on care) and the list goes on. Most in the U.S. believe that if someone cannot age at home, they have to go to a nursing home. That’s just not true anymore, and there are other options.
According to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, family caregivers (50 and older) who leave the workforce to care for a parent lose, on average, almost $304,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetime. These estimates range from $283,716 for men and $324,044 for women. Planning properly will help to reduce these numbers somewhat since the caregiver’s role is also dealing with attorneys, doctors, support services and the list goes on. Here are just a few of many questions I ask adult children when a parent is going to need some level of care, whether at home or outside the home:
• Do you know how much your parent has coming in each month?
• Is there any long-term care insurance?
• Who has Durable Power of Attorney?
• Do they have an Advanced Health Care Directive?
When the answer is “I don’t know,” that adds to their stress level and now family members have to work together to get things done. Plan. Plan. Plan.
WHAT SHOULD COMPANIES DO?
A recent study from the National Alliance for Caregiving, Workplace Eldercare shows by implementing eldercare programs can benefit employees and employers with worker retention, productivity, stress levels and health among workers. Some examples of programs include:
• Referral to caregiver resources including in-home care companies, senior placement companies, health care advisors, senior move managers and more.
• Having caregiver resources speak to working caregivers and provide information at the workplace.
• On-site support groups for working caregivers.
These workplace benefits can help working family caregivers balance their work and personal lives while attending to the necessary caregiving responsibilities. The company can benefit from improved employee retention which saves money as well as recruitment efforts to attract the most talented individuals.