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How to Support Caregivers to Make It All Work
By Melina Kambitsi, Ph.D., Vice President of Business Development and Member Services

A coworker, Anna*, recently drove more than two hours to the home of her husband’s elderly parents only to discover their situation had gone from precarious to dire. While her mother-in-law was hospitalized, her father-in-law’s ability to care for himself and take his medications had deteriorated.
As Anna and family waited with her father-in-law to get help in the emergency room, it was clear that the parents’ living situation had to change. Fortunately, the family was able to arrange for a move into an assisted living apartment quickly.

After dealing with her father-in-law’s immediate needs, touring the apartment and updating her mother-in-law, Anna drove back to the office to pick up notes and equipment so she could work remotely. That allowed her to stay productive while serving as a “caregiving bridge” for her father-in-law.

Within a few days, the new apartment was ready; and Anna was able to stop working remotely and return to the office.

As Anna learned, workplace flexibility and support make all the difference between an engaged employee and one who is deeply distracted by the daily demands of caregiving. 

One in Six in Your Workforce
A Gallup poll showed that one in six employees was caring for an elderly or disabled family member in 2011. That number is likely to rise along with the growing number of elderly Americans, thanks to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation and medical advances.

An article in Gallup’s Business Journal online on caregiving’s impact on the economy noted that:
  • Lost productivity among full-time workers with caregiving responsibilities costs employers more than $25 billion a year.
  • Caregivers miss an average of 6.6 days of work per year due to their efforts to provide care.
  • Caregiving touches all genders and generations in the workforce, with 20 percent of women and 16 percent of men having caregiving responsibilities. The age group of 45 to 64 has the highest share of caregivers among full-time workers at 22 percent.
What Employers Can Do
Many employers are exploring policies and benefits to help employees who are caregivers and maintain productivity. The Alliance is offering a free event on Jan. 15, 2019 to help employers learn more about Wellness and Caregiving: Healthy Minds, Healthy Employees, Healthy Company. Highlights will include:
  • A case study from Promega, Fitchburg, Wis., on the impact of offering caregiving benefits.
  • How to recognize caregiving’s impact in your workplace and then “meet caregivers where they are.”
  • How to change a culture that gives many employees the perception that they need to hide their efforts to help elderly or disabled relatives.
  • Self-care for caregivers.
You can also use the link above to look for post-event materials.

Free Education for Your Needs
SHRM members are welcome to take advantage of other free events featuring national speakers that are held throughout the year by The Alliance. Most events are based in Madison, although we also host special events at locations throughout our network in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. Many events are available by webinar as well.

Most events have continuing education credits for human resources professionals and brokers.

Upcoming events in 2019 include:
  • Health Policy – Keeping You in the Know, March 21, Madison
  • Self-Funded Employer Forum, April 11, Rockford, IL
  • Creating Multi-Generational Events for All Employees, April 18, Madison
  • The Alliance Annual Seminar – Finding the Value in High-Value Primary Care, May 21
To learn more about caregiving or other topics, visit The Alliance website at www.the-alliance.org/events.
*Anna’s name has been changed to protect her family’s privacy.
 
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