Caring for Caregivers in the Workplace

Posted on December 30, 2012 by VITAL WorkLife

Most HR managers have heard of "the sandwich generation"—adults who are both caring for aging parents and supporting their children. The Pew Research center found that 1 out of 8 adults between 40 and 60 are both raising a child and caring for a parent. Similarly, the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) estimates that 65.7 million Americans served as caregivers for an ill or disabled relative in the past year. So, it is very likely that a substantial percentage of your employees are serving in a caregiving capacity at any given time.

The impact of caregiving can be great. The 2011 Stress in America survey focused on caregivers and the issues they struggle with. The survey found:

  • 55% of caregivers report feeling overwhelmed by the amount of care their aging or disabled family member requires
  • The mean level of stress reported by caregivers, on a scale of 1 to 10, is 6.5 versus 5.2 for the general public
  • Caregivers report doing a fair to poor job of managing their stress, and also report poorer health compared to the general population—higher blood pressure and cholesterol, overweight or obesity, and depression

For those who work, impacts on their performance can be notable. A 2009 study by AARP and the NAC found that 57% of caregivers have worked and managed caregiving responsibilities at the same time, and 66% said their caregiving responsibilities have affected their work:

  • 66% reported going in late, leaving early or taking time off due to caregiving
  • 20% have taken a leave of absence
  • 12% have reduced work hours or taken a less demanding job
  • 9% have given up a job
  • 6% have turned down a promotion

The NAC has an online calculator at www.eldercarecalculator.org that can help you see what productivity losses can cost your business.

Using Your EAP Benefits

There are many ways VITAL WorkLife can help you support your employees who are caregivers:

  • Our counselors can help employees better deal with their stress and other impacts on their lives due to caregiving. In addition, they can point toward resources that may assist in a variety of ways, whether it's specialized medical providers who can assess Alzheimer's, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other potential disabilities, to specialized housing, to sources of respite care.
  • Our work/life web resources provide a wealth of information and resources on caregiving-related topics, as well as access to an online community called CareSpace.
  • Our financial and legal benefits can help when employees need advice on caregiving-related issues, such as taxes, estate planning, disability and elder law and more.

Pathways to Well Being Call VITAL WorkLife at 800.383.1908

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