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Caregivers in the Workplace

Caregivers in the workplace.

— Anthony Harvie/Getty Images

Demographic trends indicate a greater number of employees of all ages will assume the role of family caregiver. This trend will no doubt impact employee caregivers ages 18 to 39, as much as those ages 50+. These caregivers will be affected in many ways including physical health, mental well-being and higher health care costs.

In fact, a January 2010 MetLife survey, Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs, shows an eight percent differential in health-care costs for caregiving employees.

“These costs are substantial,” said AARP New Hampshire State Director Kelly Clark. “The conservative estimate for additional health care costs for US businesses is $13.4 billion per year. And absenteeism and lower work productivity can add $33.6 billion per year.”

In an effort to better understand the needs of working caregivers, AARP engaged the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and asked a series of caregiving questions on the spring 2010 Granite State Poll. The questions were designed to assess what types of support employee caregivers need and what types of supports employers can offer.

“Right out of the gate, we found that nearly one out of every three working adults provided unpaid care for a relative or friend in the previous year, a much higher figure than the national average of 22 percent,” added Clark

The survey also identified several workplace supports caregivers want and need, such as:

  • Flexible work schedules
  • Telecommuting
  • Job sharing
  • Unpaid eldercare leave
  • List of community caregiving resources
  • Support groups
  • Lunchtime seminars

“Many of these supports and services are low-cost and are things employers can offer in order to retain a valuable and robust workforce,” said Clark. “In fact, three out of four working caregivers surveyed said it would be helpful to have a list of community resources available. A local ServiceLink Resource Center has this information and is only a phone call away.”

For more in-depth information, read the Executive Summary of A Survey on Caregiving in New Hampshire.

Tips for working caregivers

Prepare to care: a planning guide for families

AARP’s caregiver resource center

10 ways to deal with caregiver stress

The Family Caregiver Alliance

ServiceLink Resource Centers

When employees are caregivers: a roundtable discussion

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