When Caring For Aging Parents Leads To Problems At Work

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Caring for aging parents in America is no cake walk. Most people are familiar with the term “caregiver burn-out”. What about the financial “fall-out”?  Nearly 47% of all baby boomers are lending some degree of support to a parent while still supporting dependent children. They are stuck in the middle. They are the “Sandwich Generation”. They juggle children, parents and their job. As a result, 40% of the Sandwich Generation are missing work on a regular basis due to caregiver responsibilities. A Dupont Corporation study found that employees with caregiver responsibilities had the highest job burn-out rate. For this reason, proactive employers are turning to Employee Assistance Programs who offer Geriatric Care Management services.

According to the Northeast Business Group on Health, national statistics show 1 out of 6 employees is a caregiver. 60% of these workers are female. Employee/Caregivers are spending on average $7,000 per year out of their own pocket on caregiving expenses. These Employee/Caregivers are missing work on a regular basis, attending to caregiver tasks during work hours and neglecting their own medical appointments, resulting in increased employee illness. The cost of caregiving to U.S. employers is currently 34 billion dollars per year.

Thousands of employees are struggling with the issue of balancing work with their caregiver responsibilities. Many lose their jobs because they cannot achieve the work-life balance. Geriatric Care Managers can be an Employee/Caregiver’s best partner. A Geriatric Care Manager will assess the needs of the client from a medical, psychological, social, financial, insurance, legal, environmental and cultural perspective. From that assessment, they can devise a strategy or care plan with proposed solutions for the Employee/Caregiver. The Sandwich Generation can successfully meet the greatest challenge of our age if they seek out solid advice, develop a plan, and delegate certain caregiver responsibilities to professionals.

Quitting a job to care for an aging parent is financially impossible for most. Working outside the home offers a needed break from caregiving, so keeping the job can be a healthier choice. Surprisingly, the workplace also offers valuable lessons applicable to caregiving. Working caregivers find the secret to successfully managing their caregiver role is like managing a company.  All the “work” of caring for an aging parent must be broken down into separate job duties. The Employee/Caregiver becomes the manager and outsources or delegates any tasks that can or should be done by others. A budget must be developed, and consultants are brought in when necessary. Sometimes federal programs are needed. Just like in business, managers must have realistic expectations, achievable goals and the flexibility to adapt to change. The most effective strategy is the delegation of certain duties. A manager who cannot delegate cannot be successful…in business or in caregiving.

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