A Drain on Time and Energy: WorkSpan Details the Elder Care Challenge

Adult daughter caring for her elderly father at home

Elder care is taking a toll on the workforce. And employers are stepping in.

That from a WorkSpan roundup showing an increasingly urgent problem, and what employers are doing about it.

“Elder care can drain workers’ time and energy,“ writes WorkSpan’s Mark Athitakis, “and opportunities to show that employers are supportive can destigmatize the challenge and encourage workers to consider the programs.”

How tough is it? A study by Unum shows more than half of working adults (58%) are caring for an adult: 

  • 22% of adult caregivers reported decreased productivity as a result of caregiving responsibilities
  • More than half (52%) reported being absent from or late to work because of their caregiving duties

And that’s just part of the WorkSpan story. What else did the author have to say?  

It’s affecting pipelines: Fifteen percent of caregivers are taking a leave of absence because of elder care. And it’s not just Boomers. WorkSpan points to our own Bright Horizons data showing that a quarter of the most stressed (those sandwiched between children and adults) are valuable and up-and-coming Millennials. 

Care benefits are poised for growth: A 2017 AARP study noted back-up care as one of the most popular tools. And it’s big with top employers, with interest in our program, as WorkSpan notes, gaining ground. 

Self-serve is not enough: Supporting an aging elder is something new for most people, said our own CEO Stephen Kramer. So a site login alone can’t do the job. “Given the immediacy and urgency with which elder care often comes on,” he told WorkSpan, “it’s important to have something that is a bit more full-service on the front end.” 

Business leaders are especially bullish: Support services are on the rise. “What you’re finding is that progressive employers are beginning to expand on elder-care-type benefits,” Unum VP Michelle Jackson told the publication, “and these can include things like referral services, backup elder care, geriatric counseling, care coordination, assisted living assessments – things that will assist a family member in coordinating the needs and the care of elderly parents or grandparents.”

A Final Note: A Statement of Values…and Equity  

The Unum VP highlighted another important fact – benefit equity. “From an employer’s perspective,” she told WorkSpan, “If you’ve got a middle-aged or older workforce and you give a benefit to just the younger workers, you’re excluding a whole part of your workforce.”

“These types of services,” she concluded, “offer support for an employee to navigate through what is often a crisis situation and a very complex medical landscape that they’re not familiar with.” 

Read the whole article, here.

Mom and school aged son sitting with grandpa

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Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

May 1, 2019

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.