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What Your Employees Need When Their Parents Need Care

POSTED BY
Kate O'Brien on April 15, 2016 02:05 PM

We talk a lot about parental leave, and that's only natural when Coca-Cola, EY and Twitter all announce progressive new paid leave policies for new parents within a week of each other. But we can't afford to ignore the other end of the working caregiver spectrum -- and neither can employers who want to remain competitive. 

A recent report released by the Alzheimer’s Association was an alarming reminder of just how pervasive senior care responsibilities are in the workplace. In the United States, every 66 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease and another family is faced with figuring out how they will support their loved one. And whether you’ve noticed it or not, Alzheimer’s and other conditions associated with aging are impacting the workplace, as 63 percent of those who provide eldercare are employed.

As our lifespan increases and our population ages, our expectations about caregiving for seniors have to catch up. If employers are going to support a modern workforce, it’s important that they consider their employees’ parents if they’re going to retrain talented employees.

Here are 5 ways companies can support employees with aging relatives. 

  1. Encourage Flexibility
    The nature of senior care needs demand flexibility – whether a loved one suddenly falls ill, or the in-home caregiver is out sick, these needs aren’t easy to anticipate. Supporting an aging loved one can unfortunately often mean missing work unexpectedly.  If there is a culture of flexibility in place, an employee won’t need to worry about what people are thinking when she leaves early to take her father to an appointment or works from home while her great-aunt is recovering from surgery.

    Find Ways to Help Employees Talk about Caregiving Responsibilities

  1. Minimize the Stigma
    Senior care is a difficult topic to approach, likely because of the deeply personal nature. Educating employees with informational programs like lunch and learn sessions can help ease their discomfort and prepare them for future needs. They can more easily communicate the stress they are feeling outside work when the topic doesn’t feel so awkward – which allows them to more adequately asses how the issue is affecting their job performance.


  1. Introduce Senior-Friendly Benefits
    Senior care benefits are becoming more common in the workplace, and for good reason. As the prevalence of incurable diseases like Alzheimer’s continues to increase, more employees will need to take advantage of employer assistance than ever before. Services like senior care planning, elder care referral services, and backup care can help employees feeling the pressure of caring for an aging relative.

    How Care@Work's Care Planning Benefit Helps Reduce Absenteeism and Improve Productivity 

  1. Provide Stress Relieving Perks
    Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high – and that doesn’t account for the stress that family caregivers are also facing at work. Work perks like office yoga, a nap room, or monthly massages can do wonders for a caregiver who is confronting the stress of supporting an aging loved one.

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

  1. Have Expert Advice at the Ready
    For someone who has never considered senior care, an elderly loved one’s sudden injury or illness can be a stressful, emotional time. Providing easy to access resources removes some of the stress which allows them to approach the situation with a level-head to take the best approach for their family. They can remain focused and productive at work if they aren’t struggling to find help in this stressful time.

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