Employee Benefits

Who ‘CARES’?

Ed Oleksiak
Ed Oleksiak
Sr. Vice President, Employee Benefits

To answer that question bluntly…a LOT of people! I’m talking about caregivers, and, believe it or not, there are 40 million of them in the U.S. Many are in the “sandwich generation” between the ages of 40-65 providing care for children, spouses, and/or parents. And there’s a pretty good chance at least one, if not several, of your employees are caregivers.

Here are some statistics to elaborate on my point:

  • Approximately 60 percent of caregivers are employed.
  • Of that percentage, 25 percent of the caregivers are millennials and 50 percent are over 50 years old.
  • The median hours spent caregiving is 50 hours per month.
  • Statistics say that caregivers have 8 percent higher healthcare costs than non-caregivers. Not surprising given the stress caregiving causes both physically and mentally.

This subject hit my radar last month when in one week three separate times caregiving popped up.

First, I attended a lunch sponsored by the Amazing Care Network whose mission is to bring together services and resources that help us preserve our grace, dignity, and independence as we age.

Next, I attended the Senior Source of Dallas annual charity lunch. The Senior Source provides resources for age-related issues for older adults and their loved ones. They also help seniors protect themselves against physical and financial abuse. Estimates claim that $36 billion annually is taken from older adults through financial exploitation, fraud, and scams. That’s scary and sad. The Senior Source also helps older adults feel more connected.

Finally, when I returned to my desk from the Senior Source lunch, a copy of the Employee Benefit News magazine was on my desk with the cover article: “The Case for Caregiving.”

Clearly, the forces were saying I needed to pay attention to this subject. So, with that, I got to thinking about businesses and what can/should employers do?

A great place to start is by putting this subject on your radar and get it on the leadership team’s radar. Based on the statistics I mentioned above, the number of employees faced with these challenges will only increase. Employers that provide flexibility and resources for caregivers will more effectively compete in an already competitive hiring market. It will require resources, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. It will also require sensitivity. According to ReAct, an employer-focused coalition dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by employee caregivers and reducing the impact on companies that employ them, “The goal is not just to spend more money…There are low-cost and no-cost ways to support employee caregivers…Corporate leadership needs to create a cultural shift that removes the stigma and normalizes caregiving.”

So, now, let me ask again, “Who CARES?” I think we all should when it comes to this subject. It’s certainly not going away.

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