The impact of family caregiving on work is on the rise. Most family caregivers juggle caring for an aging family member or relative with employment. A recent AARP study reports that the average U.S. caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends nearly 20 hours per week – the equivalent of another part-time job – providing unpaid care to an elderly person for nearly five years. An estimated 61 percent of family caregivers of adults age 50 and older are currently employed either full-time (50 percent) or part-time (11 percent).
Female caregivers feel it the most
The time and demands of eldercare responsibilities can interfere with paid employment. Results from the AARP study proved that when it becomes stressful to juggle caregiving activities with work, female caregivers make the most drastic changes in their work life, especially if they cannot pay for outside help. These changes include arriving late, early or taking time off, cutting back on work hours, changing jobs, stop working completely, or retiring from work earlier than planned.
Impact on employee and employer
The cost of family caregiving affects both the employee and the employer. U.S. businesses lose up to an estimated $33.6 billion per year in lost productivity from full-time working caregivers. The costs associated with replacing employees, absenteeism, workday distractions, supervisory time and reductions in hours can add up. Businesses understand that eldercare is impacting more employees each year – many of them women – and they’re making changes to positively impact how work and caregiving can work together.
Eldercare benefits can help the working family caregiver better manage their caregiving responsibilities and their jobs. U.S. businesses first began adding eldercare resources to the range of work-family programs in the mid-1980s. Modeled after childcare programs, these benefits programs provide resources and referral services, including discounted services, to help those responsible for eldercare. Eldercare benefits have improved employee retention, productivity, stress levels and health among workers.
Changing Workplace Policies
Changes in workplace policies that support and accommodate working caregivers have shown to benefit both employees and employers. Numerous studies have found that flexible workplace policies enhance employee productivity, lower absenteeism, reduce costs, and appear to positively affect profits. They also aid in recruitment and retention efforts, allowing employers to retain a talented and knowledgeable workforce and save the money and time that would otherwise have been spent recruiting, interviewing, selecting and training new employees.
In addition to specific eldercare benefits, flexible work options, family leave and paid sick days are all vital policies for working caregivers. These benefits can help working adults balance their career, personal lives, and family caregiving responsibilities.
If you are juggling family caregiving and your career, you should know there’s help. Talk with your employer about existing eldercare benefits to help you improve the quality of your life with a proper work-home life balance.
Also, consider hiring a professional caregiver to help with daily tasks. FirstLight Home Care sends caregivers into homes to provide compassionate non-medical home care. We help with everyday activities such as bathing and personal hygiene, meal preparation and eating, light housekeeping and laundry. We also offer Respite Care, giving family caregivers a much-needed break from their own caregiving role.
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AARP Public Policy Institute, 2017
MetLife Mature Market Institute and National Alliance for Caregiving