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.

NEWS: Taking Vacations To Help with Caregiving

Many people drag office work along on vacations. Now, research shows a lot of people are using their paid vacation time for a different kind of non-recreational duty–to take care of family members’ medical needs.

A recent survey shows many folks are using their paid vacations for caregiving–to manage illnesses, elder care, checkups, etc. About 61% of employees had taken at least a day of paid vacation time during the preceding year to care for another person, according to a survey of 862 employees age 45 and older by The Hartford Financial Services Group and ComPsych Corp.; more than 9% had taken a week or more. Clearly, workers “are using their paid time off as an extension of their hectic lives, rather than a vacation,” Barbara Campbell, a regional vice president for Hartford, said in a news release on the subject.

Hospital stays are shorter, requiring families to pitch in with home care afterward, as author Paula Span reports in a recent book, “When the Time Comes.”

To be sure there are benefits for caregivers, who may take satisfaction in the warmth and intimacy that comes with shouldering family duties. Still, some of us may feel squeezed between our professional selves and our caregiver selves, left with little time to take a break from the grind.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal by clicking here.

Report: Caregiving in the U.S. 2009

From the AARP website

By: National Alliance for Caregiving in Collaboration with AARP; Funded by The MetLife Foundation | December 2009

Caregiving is still mostly a woman’s job and many women are putting their career and financial futures on hold as they juggle part-time caregiving and full-time job requirements. This is the reality reported in Caregiving in the U.S. 2009, the most comprehensive examination to date of caregiving in America. The first national profile of caregivers, Family Caregiving in the U.S. was published in 1997, and an updated version of the study, Caregiving in the U.S., was reported in 2004.

The sweeping 2009 study of the legions of people caring for younger adults, older adults, and children with special needs reveals that 29 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 65.7 million people, are caregivers, including 31 percent of all households. These caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week. The 2009 reports also begin to trend the findings from all three waves of the study.

Continue to read here.