Close to half of the workforce has cared for an aging parent or in-law within the last five years. Forty-four percent of those workers have provided care for more than one person in that time period.
These eye-opening statistics come from a recent study conducted by The Families and Work Institute (FWI) in conjunction with The Center for American Progress, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Forum in Washington, D.C., and The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s. The Shriver Report reveals that ”of the 54.2 million working caregivers in the United States, almost two-thirds report having to go to work late, leave early or take time off to provide care.”
So it’s not surprising that nearly half of all caregivers report high emotional and physical stress. Other significant findings from the study include:
- Working men and women are equally likely to be family caregivers.
- Twenty-four percent of women in the workforce and twenty-five percent of men expect to care for aging parents or in-laws in the coming five years.
- Nearly one in five of those care givers will be caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
How can employers help with elder care responsibilities?
The study found that family caregivers’ top wishes for the ways in which employers could better support them include:
- Greater flexibility
- More options for managing time
- Time off for elder care, especially paid time off without having to use up vacation time
- More understanding of their situation from management
For the Atlanta based law firm of Alston & Bird, providing elder care assistance to employees is an essential part of the firm’s commitment to work/life balance.
“The importance of providing the best work/life solutions for employees was made clear more than fifteen years ago when child care rose to the top of the list of concerns,” says Alston & Bird Work/Life Coordinator, Nicole Dever. More recently, as the baby boomer generation is aging, elder care concerns are now at the forefront.
“Our approach is to recognize four key areas for each individual: work, family, community and self. We develop and enhance benefits following those four paths,” says Dever. ”We’ve had a resource and referral program in place for many years that addressed long-term elder care needs, but we were thrilled with the opportunity to provide a short-term, back-up care solution. The Bright Horizons Back-Up Care Advantage Program (BUCA) provides our employees with peace of mind knowing their loved ones are being cared for while they are at work.”
In addition to the BUCA program, Alston & Bird provides employees the opportunity to participate in a confidential monthly support group facilitated by an elder care specialist. ’The group is for any employee dealing with a difficult situation including the loss of a loved one or caring for sick and elderly family members,? says Dever.
Click here to read more of Nicole Dever’s interview.