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How Employers Can Support Working Caregivers

Eldercare benefits and other caregiver programs are powerful retention tools

Today's boomers may well be called "the Eldercare Generation." As more employees remain in the labor force and their parents live longer, businesses have begun stepping up to help overwhelmed workers better balance their professional and family responsibilities.

See also: AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Companies are finding eldercare help to be timely “insurance,” because both employers and employees benefit when workers have options that make caregiving more manageable. No wonder eldercare benefits and flexible work arrangements are fast becoming a potent recruiting and retention tool. According to the 2010 MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs, 20 percent of employers with more than 500 workers offer eldercare referral services, 15 percent offer eldercare leave, 3 percent offer emergency eldercare, 2 percent have subsidized eldercare, and 1 percent paid for eldercare or had an on-site eldercare center.1

An Urgent Issue

As the population continues to age, more and more adults are finding themselves in caregiving situations. Sixty-six million caregivers make up 29 percent of the U.S. adult population, all of them providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.2

More than one in six Americans working full- or part-time report assisting with the care of an elderly or disabled family member, relative or friend.3 Ninety-two percent of working caregivers with intense caregiving responsibilities report major changes in their working patterns.

The average length of caregiving is 4.3 years.

Why the Demand?

It’s simple math: The population is aging; more women are at work; boomers are working past retirement; others are reentering the labor force in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Meanwhile, medical know-how is extending lives, hospital stays are shorter, families are smaller and society is more mobile. Add it all up and the result is fewer family members at home to help needy relatives.

Here’s more evidence:

  • One fifth of American workers are informal caregivers
  • Women provide the majority of informal care to spouses, parents, parents-in-law, friends and neighbors
  • Between 2010 and 2020, the number of working women age 55-plus will increase to 66 percent, from 60 percent4
  • While caregiving is traditionally associated with women, almost 44 percent percent of today’s caregivers are men5

Next page: The cost to employers. »

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