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How Employers Can Support Working Caregivers

Eldercare benefits and other caregiver programs are powerful retention tools

What Can Employers Do?

Formal support is important, but even more critical is an office culture that 1) is sympathetic to the issues elder caregiving employees face, 2) encourages workers to use company services, and 3) directs employees to external resources for caregivers. This must be a top-down attitude, where supervisors and managers are trained to be sensitive to staff with eldercare issues. (A Society for Human Resource Management survey claims that just 11 percent of respondents train managers on this topic.) You can have policies on the books, but employees don’t use them if they’re afraid they will negatively impact their job.

Your level of response will vary depending on the size of your company and your budget. Providing basic eldercare benefits does not have to be complicated or expensive. For example, AARP is a leading supplier of free caregiving information. You can direct your employees to or have them call AARP Caregiving support: 877-333-5885 (Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.).

Have your HR department compile a list of community resources to hand out to employees. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for material and referrals (counseling services, support groups, booklets, specific programs, lists of eldercare experts). Check with nearby senior centers, hospitals and national sources

Ask workers what kind of eldercare policies would be helpful — flextime, lunchtime workshops and speakers, cash subsidizes for services, paid sick leave or employee leave-sharing, support groups, or access to a geriatric case manager.

Find out what has worked and hasn't worked for others in your field that have eldercare policies.

Consider contracting with a third party to provide eldercare employee services. It could be online or telephone support or for emergency back-up care.

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An Initiative of the AARP Public Policy Institute