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Get Ready: Senior Care Concerns Arise During the Holidays

Patrick Ball on December 09, 2014 04:21 PM

Heading home for the holidays can be a very rude awakening. You know this. Whether it’s happened to a friend, or yourself.

But as an HR rep, it’s also happening to your employees. They go home, connect with family member – and see how they’re aging in person. Leaving your employees with a lot on their plate in January. 

Finding the time and resources to care for elderly parents while working full-time can be an extremely challenging and stress-inducing task  – just ask any among the estimated 40 million Americans between the ages of 40 and 59 helping at least one parent manage his or her daily life.

But there are many ways employers can support their employees through the stressful transition into caring for aging family members. (Tip: letting your employees know this as soon as possible can take some stress out of their holiday break.)

Here are a few suggestions:  

  1. Be Flexible
    As they transition into roles as senior caregivers, employees may need a little flexibility. Perhaps it’s through a partial telecommuting arrangement in which they can work from home or adapt their hours a few days a week to bring their parents to doctor’s appointments or give them specific help at home.

    “It’s important to check in with your employees regularly to see how things are going and discuss any flexibility needs,” says Janine N. Truitt, chief innovation officer for Talent Think Innovations and founder of The Aristocracy of HR blog. “Letting employees know you care can prevent absences and burnout that may result from caring for loved ones.”

    Learn more about Senior Care: The Work-Life Issue Nobody's Talking About 

  1. Encourage Open Communication
    It can be an emotional challenge to discuss an aging family members’ health, especially in a professional environment. Counter this by establishing open lines of communication and making clear that your workplace is a warm, inviting space where employees should feel confident they can go to management or HR to find a solution that lets them meet their responsibilities at work and at home.

    Each situation is unique, particularly when it comes to senior care. The needs and arc of care are far more situational and less predictable than the typical child care arrangement, so feeling like they don’t have to hide their elder care responsibilities will help employees with stress management.

  1. Offer Senior-Friendly Benefits
    Senior care responsibilities aren’t going anywhere, and they’re only going to become an increasingly prevalent workplace issue – beyond the billions businesses are losing already due to absenteeism and lost productivity. According to a MetLife study, nearly 60 percent of those caring for adults are doing so while working full-time, and almost 70 percent of those working caregivers are forced to make workplace adjustments.  

    Read more about The Sandwich Generation at Work

    One way to cut your losses is including senior care assistance in your suite of lifestyle benefits. According to the Family and Work institute’s 2014 National Study of Employers, nearly half of employers provide elder care resources and referral benefits. Leading companies are also providing senior care planning and even backup care benefits as a way to keep employees focused and productive at work by helping them to meet responsibilities outside of the office.

  1. Promote Self-Care
    Caregivers often struggle with stress. “We get so wrapped up in our lives and caring for others that we forget about taking care of ourselves first,” says Blake McCammon, operations and community manager for Blogging4Jobs.

    Help your employees with stress management by providing resources on support groups, yoga classes, and stress-release practices.

    Find Stress Management Tips for Sandwich Generation Employees 
  1. Be a Source of Information
    Sometimes it’s the simple gestures that can make the biggest effect. For example, Duke University offers their staff educational sessions on how to care for family members with Alzheimer’s and other ailments.

    Being thrust into the role of senior care provider is one most don’t anticipate, nor do they know where or to whom to turn for information. The more you can be a resource for your employees and remove a layer of stress from their work-life equation, the better they’ll be able to focus and perform at a high level when they’re in the office. 

Click the button below to learn how adult backpup care can help your company reduce absenteeism, improve productivity and boost its bottom line while addressing a key elder care need. 

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