Mike Haberman of HR Observations has an excellent post on the high toll that eldercare takes on both the employee and the employer, and he cites a recent news report which says that “One in four American adults provides care for an aging parent, a threefold increase since 1994…” He discusses the emotional and financial cost to the employee caretaker, as well as the potential career loss. And on the employer side, costs range from productivity losses and absence to the potential loss of valued employees.
It’s a problem that is growing exponentially. According to AARP, 30 million households are currently providing care for an adult over the age of 50 and that number is expected to double over the next 25 years.
As Haberman points out, the caregiving employee shoulders an enormous burden – and caregivers are also a population at risk on virtually every front – caregiving takes a toll on mental and emotional health and physical health. It also takes take a toll on the wallet. A study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute reported an average loss of $566,443 in wage wealth due to the unanticipated consequences of their caregiving responsibilities. In a prior post, we discuss The high cost of caregiving and what employers can do.
Haberman notes the need to educate employees. One practical tool we’ve found that could be useful in this effort is the AARP Foundation’s excellent guide, Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families (PDF). It discusses the importance of making it a priority to work with the elderly loved one and other family members to put together a caregiving plan in advance. Advance planning helps to minimize the emotional and logistical stress of a last minute scramble, to reduce the financial strain, and to ensure that the loved one’s wishes are factored in. The guide includes practical information on forming a caregiving team and plan, ways to broach a difficult topic, and checklists of needs, considerations, and necessary information.
Because both eldercare and general caregiving is an issue that so many of our employee and employer members face, we’ve also put together some excellent Caregiver Resources that might be helpful to share with your employees.

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