Employers Start to Tune in on Elder Care Topics

The stresses on family caregivers are becoming more commonplace as the population ages, as are the mounting costs associated with care provided in home. 

But there may be some relief for those who are employed and are seeking elder care for a loved one, writes The Washington Post.

The share of employers providing information about elder care services to their employees has risen from 31% in 2008 to 43% in 2014, according to the 2014 Families and Work Institute’s National Study of Employers.

Additionally, three-fourths of employers say they offer time off for elder care, though few offer paid leave. The share of companies allowing workers to pay for some elder care with pre-tax dollars has nearly doubled since 2008 to 41%, however, only 7% offer short-term respite care to give working caregivers a break.

Some companies, such as Fannie Mae in the Washington D.C. area, are offering not only flexibility for their employees, but also benefits like emergency backup adult care, geriatric assessments, social workers to assist with referrals for adult day care programs, along with legal, financial and emotional counseling.

“We’re starting to see pockets of innovation,” Drew Holzapfel, who heads ReACT (Respect a Caregiver’s Time), told the Washington Post. ReACT is a network of more than 75 firms, academic institutions and nonprofit groups that are looking to change workplace culture to help people better manage work and elder care. “But with elder care, we’re finding that if you haven’t experienced it, you have a hard time understanding it,” he said.

For those who “don’t get it,” the consequences of failing to support employees who have elder care responsibilities are multi-faceted.

MetLife estimates such negligence can cost companies as much as $34 billion a year in lost productivity, absenteeism, disengagement, turnover and higher health care costs, as it is suggested that workers stressed with elder care duties are sicker, writes The Washington Post.

But with most elder care being performed by family members—more than 80%, according to Care.com— a number of employers have recognized the need to provide resources to their employees.

In recent years, the number of companies seeking elder care benefits through Care.com has risen by 50%, said Jody Gastfriend, senior vice president of Care.com, in the article.

“Universities have been at the head of the pack thinking about elder care, because their workforces tend to skew older, as do health-care, law and financial services companies,” Gastfriend said. “But now, as industries and companies look at what their competitors are offering, it’s becoming more of an expectation.”

Read more at The Washington Post.

Written by Jason Oliva

Jason Oliva