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The $30 Billion Expense We're Not Talking About Enough

Posted by Patrick Ball on 2 Feb 2016

Senior care issues are costing businesses billions

Picture this: You’re stressing about a deadline at work and have a million things to do in order to hit it. Then the phone rings: Mom fell.

“Most people don’t know where to go, what to do, who to turn to, and it becomes a crisis,” says Jody Gastfriend, vice president of Senior Care Services at Care.com. “So many caregiving employees end up having to deal with elder care because they get a phone call like that. And they often are not able to really focus on their jobs because they’re so stressed and so distracted.”

You just have to scratch the surface to see what kind of stress they’re under. They want resources, they want help and they’re deeply appreciative when their employers offer it.Half of adults in their 40s and 50s have an aging parent and are supporting a child as well. That’s millions of working Americans who are “sandwiched” between the needs of their aging loved ones and dependents. And many of these caregivers are forced to scale back at work – reducing hours, passing on projects, turning down promotions or even leaving jobs – due to caregiving responsibilities.

It adds up: American companies are losing more than $30 billion annually in lost productivity costs due to care-related issues.“Employers have some real skin in the game,” says Gastfriend. “They want their workforce to be able to be engaged. And employees want to be able to come to work; they want to be able to juggle all of these responsibilities.” 

The problem is not enough of us are talking about senior care issues. More than 65 million adults are providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged -- and about 60 percnt of them are doing this while working full time. However, this important population of working caregivers does not garner nearly the amount of attention paid to working moms and dads. 

Why not? There are many factors that contribute to this "stigma" around senior care. For example: 

  • Elder care is deeply personal and typically happens within the confines of a home 
  • Needs often arise suddenly, after a fall or diagnosis  
  • End-of-life issues are difficult to talk about in general 

Whatever the reason, identifying senior care issues within the workforce is critical to providing proper support for working caregivers and minimizing the impact absenteeism, presenteeism and stress can have on employees' job performance and your organization's bottom line. 

Watch the video below to hear Jody Gastfriend’s advice on how organizations can remove the stigma from senior care in the workplace, so that employees can confidently seek out the support they need to remain present, productive and engaged at work.

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