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7 Issues Employees Face When Confronted with Senior Care

Jennifer Gibbons, MSW, LICSW on June 29, 2017 10:30 AM

If you had to choose, who would you rather arrange care for? Cute kids and pets, or older adults? Businesses are almost expected to offer some type of child care assistance, but employer-supported senior care is a more recent phenomenon. 

Currently, 25 million workers in the U.S. care for aging parents and this number is increasing daily. So why the disproportionate focus on child care when the US birth rate is at an all-time low and the aging population is booming? 

The quick answer is that child care is simpler than senior care in many ways. And the complexity of senior care is the main reason employees need quality guidance to come up with a plan, navigate options for care, and stay focused at work. 

Here are seven major issues employees may face when managing senior care for their aging loved ones: 

1. Resistance:
Parents of young children don't ask their kids for permission to hire a nanny so they can show up to work. However,  adult children can't arrange care for their parents without their buy-in. What happens when they don't want help? Aging parents have the right to make their own decisions, even if adult children don't agree with them.  An aging parent may be unwilling to accept help because they are afraid of losing their independence, and that can make a big impact on an employee's work.

2.  Cost:
That day care bill for little Johnny may be hefty, but at least it’s straightforward. When it comes to the cost of senior care, there’s a lot to learn, and many hidden costs. No one can assume Medicare will foot the bill. 

3. Quality: 
Quality care can be hard to find - most don’t know where to look and what to ask. First--how do you even determine quality? And how do you evaluate different types of care and make sense of the various regulations and state standards? Expert guidance can make a big difference in helping your employees and their families find the right care.

4. Caregiver match:
When a loved one needs help, finding the right caregiver is especially important. An aging mother may want a female caregiver if she needs help bathing, or an aging father may need a strong caregiver if he needs assistance transferring in and out of his wheelchair. If a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a caregiver who understands this disease is a must. 

5. End of life care:
We don’t like to think about what happens as our parents age, but having conversations around end of life care is important. Obtaining the right information ahead of time can enable families to be more prepared and ultimately make decisions that respect the wishes of their loved ones.

6. Family dynamics: 
Family disagreement is common when each adult child thinks he or she knows what is best for Mom. Trying to get all family members on the same page may stir up unresolved family conflicts. Conversations and planning can subsequently get derailed. 

7. Long-distance caregiving: 
About 15% of all caregivers live an hour or more away from their parents or aging family members. Long distance caregivers can face an array of additional challenges when they cannot physically be present to provide care for Mom or Dad.

Many of your employees may eventually face an elder care crisis. Without support, they may waste time searching for resources, or miss work entirely to take on caregiving responsibilities. In today’s world, senior care workplace support is equally as crucial as child care benefits.’s Senior Care Planning program provides expert assistance and nationwide resources, helping guide your employees through their senior care challenges and helping them stay focused and engaged on the job. 

As the world has changed, so should employee benefits. More employees are caring for elders than young children, and company benefits should reflect this change in care needs.

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