New Study Confirms Need for Eldercare Employee Benefits

A poll in the March 2010 issue of Caring Right at Home asked readers to rate various ways employers can support working caregivers. Flexible hours topped the list at 39%, followed by personal leave for caregivers (15%), telecommuting (12%), job sharing (8%) and an eldercare resource line (6%).

This month, we would like to share the results of a new study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute, which sheds new light on the extent to which the challenges of family caregivers impact the American workplace.

Caregivers Are More Likely To Report Health Problems

Working caregiver with headacheIf you are responsible for taking care of an elderly relative or friend, it will likely impact your health and your employer’s bottom line. Employees in the U.S. who are caring for an older relative are more likely to report health problems like depression, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, costing employers an estimated average 8% per year, or $13.4 billion annually, in healthcare costs, according to the MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs.

The report, produced by the MetLife Mature Market Institute with the National Alliance for Caregiving in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Aging, also found that younger caregivers (ages 18 to 39) cost their employers 11% more for health care than non-caregivers, and male caregivers cost an additional 18%. It also found that eldercare may be closely associated with high-risk behaviors like smoking and alcohol consumption. Exacerbating the potential impact to employers is the possibility that these medical conditions may also lead to disability-related absences.

The MetLife report was drawn from an analysis of 17,000 employees of a major multinational U.S. corporation who completed health risk assessment questionnaires (HRA). Twelve percent of the respondents were caregivers for an older person.

Read more at Right at Home’s website.

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