By Caleb Masuaku, AGE of Central Texas
Almost 3 years ago, the conoravirus pandemic disrupted the livelihood of every single American. Millions of people lost their jobs, principally women. According to The Wall Street Journal, labor force participation rate for men is down 1% and down 2.5% for women since February 2020. Men between 24 to 54 years old have the highest rate of labor force participation and women over 55 years old have the lowest rate of labor force participation, coincidently almost 50% of caregivers are over 49 years old and 61% are women.
As schools, daycares, and older adult centers closed, many people were forced to quit their full-time jobs to become principal caregivers to their children, older parents, and loved ones. Since the spring of 2020, more than 3.5 million mothers with school-aged children have lost their jobs, took leaves, or left the workforce entirely, according to the census bureau.
People continue to have a hard time balancing work and household responsibilities, and because of the way our society is structured, mothers are getting the biggest hit. Up to 53 million people in the U.S. provide care to another person, and women amount to 61% of that population. Between 2015 to 2021, the number of American providing care jumped from 18% to 21%, the number of family caregivers experiencing difficulty jumped from 19% to 26%, and self-reporting of poor health of family caregivers increased from 17% to 21% (Caregiving in the US 2020 | The National Alliance for Caregiving). This shows how detrimental the pandemic has been for family caregivers and why people feel forced to quit their full-time positions to take care of family members.
Research conducted by AARP shows that remote work has been helpful for family caregivers. Of 800 people surveyed, 89% stated that remote work helped them manage their caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic. Moreover, 52% continue to work from home as businesses reopened, and 48% of them would like to permanently work from home.
Due to the stress causation and uncertainty the pandemic has caused, family caregivers expressed that flexibility is the key to their return to a traditional work environment. 43% stated that they would look for another position if employers removed accommodation implemented during the pandemic – such as telework, flexible hours, additional vacation, or sick leave.
In another survey of 1,508 of U.S mothers who identify as primarily caregivers, researchers found that only 31% planned to return to the workforce full-time during the next 12 months, and 69% planned to remain at home as a full-time caregiver (Lack of Flex Arrangements Keep Moms from Returning to Work (shrm.org)).
For caregivers that previously held outside jobs, the toll of caregiving responsibilities has hampered their return to the workforce due of the uncertainty of flexible work opportunities that can allow them to balance work and caregiving obligations at home for their children and parents.
As surprising as it is, many employers are not aware of the caregiving journey of some of their employees. A recent survey reported that only 52% of working caregiving disclose the information to their employers.
Despite this reality, many big companies have implemented a systems to help their caregiver employees to balance work and caregiving responsibilities. Facebook provides 4 months parental leave at 100% pay for new parents. The company has also partnered with Wellthy, a health-tech care concierge firm that connects employees and families with a care coordinator to help them manage and coordinate care for a chronically ill, aging, or disabled loved one through its online platform.
Care coordinators can also help with a number of tasks – including contesting insurance bills, making appointments, or finding a long-term care community. Not all companies are able to provide such a service to their employees, but there are some other opportunities that companies can implement to retain their caregiving employees, including:
- Flexible scheduling
- Remote work or telework
- Reducing hours from full-time to part-time
- Job sharing and/orreduced workload
- Specialized caregiver services
AGE of Central Texas offers programs to support working caregivers, including the AGE Thrive Social & Wellness Centers. Located in in Austin and Round Rock, the Centers are the longest-operating, licensed adult day care programs in Central Texas, providing exceptional daytime care for older adults with physical needs or memory loss.
In our secure facilities, your loved one will receive expert care from compassionate staff that are equipped to handle your loved one’s challenging health and memory loss-related needs. Your loved one can enjoy an active, social day while receiving the care and support he or she needs in a vibrant community setting.
Our philosophy is to put the person first before their diagnosis. We believe the unique passions and personalities of the individuals that spend with us every day are what makes our award-winning centers so exceptional. For more information, visit http://www.AGEofCentralTX.org.