On July 13th I wrote a post entitled Eldercare Takes Its Toll on Employees and Employers. It received a far amount of attention, which indicates it is an area of concern for many employees and employers. So to provide further information I reached out to an expert in the field. I generally don’t have guest posts, but I asked Susan Avello, who is Vice President and Partner of Aging Info USA based in Chicago,IL., to write a post on this subject and she agreed to do so. So without further ado let me introduce Susan’s post.
The Future of Eldercare in Work and Life
If 1 in 4 American Adults is providing care for an aging loved one, what does this look like for our future workforce?
The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers finds the total estimated costs of lost wages, pension and Social Security benefits for caregivers is nearly $3 trillion. Released in June by the New York-based insurance company, the study also finds that one-quarter of adult children provide care or financial assistance to a parent and that number has tripled in the past 15 years.
Roxanne Sczcypkowski, director of work-life products and services at Chicago-based employee-assistance provider ComPsych, says “eldercare is an issue that affects 99 percent of the population and we’re certainly seeing that reflected in our caseload here in the work/life area.” See the article The High Cost of Caregiving,on HR Executive.
Until now, the baby boomers found themselves caring for aging parents and young children, and companies offering eldercare assistance through EAP’s was certainly thought to be a benefit of the future; it was something companies couldn’t ignore. Now, experts agree, companies need to be more proactive in preparing for this tsunami headed their way.
Even with this growing demographic, there appears to be a self-induced stigma by employees asking for time off to take care of an elderly parent. I’m not sure exactly why that is. It seems OK for an employee to have a baby and ask for time off. Men are doing it now too, but for some reason, there is a little bit of reluctance when it comes to asking for time off to care for an elderly relative. One reason is, caregivers are afraid to self-identify for fear of losing their job. It has also been suggested that older employees may have younger managers and may be reluctant to identify their need to care for elderly parents because they don’t think their managers will understand. Proactive vs. reactive caregiving are two different things.
Education is crucial in preparing before a crisis instead of a reactionary response. Read more on Proactive VS Reactive Caregiving HERE.
Teaching with Technology
Ready access to timely information is critical when moving from reactive to proactive caregiving. Tools needed include: access to personal health records (PHRs) on-line; certified eldercare specialists to respond to questions; private chat rooms; 24/7conference-call capability, and mobile applications are what’s next in education, as it relates to eldercare and caregiving. This is the way of the future and utilizing the latest technology and mobile applications is at the forefront.
In Fall 2011 Aging InfoUSA will launch CaregiverLife.com, an interactive online ‘one-stop shop’ to help employee caregivers navigate the continuum of eldercare through educational videos, blogs, webinars, interactive discussion boards, Skype conferencing and podcasts centering on care giving and work/life challenges. CaregiverLife.com will also be an interactive training portal for HR and management to stay ahead of the game in the area of work/life issues
associated with eldercare and all aspects of care giving. In addition to providing training and education in the form of webinars, videos, podcasts and virtual events, CaregiverLife.com will offer continuing education certification through our partnership with the Human Resource Certification Institute. CaregiverLife coming Fall 2011 – helping employees and employers
alike navigate these critical life changes.
Susan Avello is Vice President and Partner of Aging Info USA based in Chicago,IL. Aging Info USA directly supports employee caregivers, HR and Executive Management by implementing creative approaches in education, resources and training in regard to eldercare and family caregiving and work/life challenges. She is the author of two books as well as The Working Caregiver and HR Virtual Cafe blogs. You can connect with her on Twitter @susanavello.
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