Employers support caregiving employees | The Times Herald

The U.S. Department of Labor has estimated 54 percent of workforce employees will provide elder care for a parent or parents, and nearly two-thirds of caregivers will experience conflict between demands at home and demands from employers.

Today’s employed Baby Boomers are the caregiver generation for their parents. They are finding themselves juggling care responsibilities around their employment obligations. Sometimes employees find they have no option but to take leave from work or use sick time to meet their caregiving demands.

Employers also feel the toll it is taking on their employees. A report by AARP describes the cost to employers:

“Companies are also seeing the emotional and physical toll that caregiving takes on their workers. In one study, 75 percent of employees caring for adults reported negative health consequences, including depression, stress, panic attacks, headaches, loss of energy and sleep, weight loss and physical pain. Businesses suffer, too, by having to pay high health insurance costs and in lost productivity. That doesn’t count the promotions or assignments workers turn down that require travel or relocation away from aging relatives.”

Businesses that don’t offer benefits or address elder care wind up paying for them. A recent study by the MetLife Market Mature Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving states U.S. companies pay between $17.1 billion and $33.6 billion annually, depending on the level of caregiving involved, on lost productivity. That equates to $2,110 for every full-time worker who cares for an adult.

Elder care cost businesses:

• About $6.6 billion to replace employees (9 percent left work either to take early retirement or quit)

• Nearly $7 billion in workday interruptions (coming in late, leaving early, taking time off during the day, or spending work time on elder care matters)

• About $4.3 billion in absenteeism

Typically, human resource departments work with employees on many issues that can affect their work productivity. There are programs for drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, illness, absenteeism and child care — but help with elder care issues normally is not provided.

The AARP report follows several companies who are providing help with elder care issues and what they are doing for their employees:

• Freddie Mac has a free elder care consultant and access to subsidized aides for a relative up to 20 days.

• Verizon Wireless offers seminars on elder care issues and allows full-time workers 80 hours a year in back-up care, 40 hours for part-time, and $4/hour for in-home help.

• At the Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird LLP, workers can donate vacation time to colleagues who have used up theirs to care for family members.

A growing number of companies nationwide are directing their human resource departments to provide resources, education and group help for caregiving issues by:

• Providing materials from community resources such as phone numbers to their local Senior Centers or Area Agencies on Aging.

• Making available brochures and booklets on specific programs and services by elder care experts.

• Providing speakers to educate employees on caregiving options.

• Allowing options to use paid sick leave, employee job sharing and flexible hours.

• Allowing employee caregivers to use business computers for caregiving research.

• Contracting with companies that provide elder care services to help employees.

Elder care service providers also are reaching out to help employee caregivers by providing informational presentations at the work place during lunch or other times set up by employers. One such work place presentation to employees provided information about reverse mortgages. One of the employees who had been trying to help his parents pay for home care learned at a work site presentation that a reverse mortgage was one way to cover caregiver expenses.

The human resources department of a local business in Utah invited the Salt Lake Eldercare Planning Council to present a “Brown bag, Lunch and Learn” during its employees’ lunch hour. In 30 minutes time, those who attended learned how the services of a care manger, home care provider, elder attorney, Medicaid planner and financial consultant can help with caregiving decisions. Problems were discussed, questions answered and employees left armed with information and the names of professional people they knew could help them.

I have been invited by employers and have spoken about elder care and estate planning to employees at a number of local work places. The response from these employees always has been positive and they have been appreciative to their employer for having arranged the information to be presented.

Besides work place help for employers and employees dealing with caregiving, the Internet also is a great research tool. The National Care Planning Council website at longtermcarelink.net is a comprehensive resource for elder care, senior care and long term care planning.

Employers, employees and elder care service providers working together can make parent or senior caregiving a workable solution for all.

~ by Butch on November 18, 2012.

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