It can be exhausting to be a member of the “sandwich generation,”— caring for an elderly parent with healthcare issues while also parenting children who still live at home. But it may also be hazardous to your career.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, this delicate balancing act can lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity—to the tune of $34 billion a year. Employers are rightfully concerned about this phenomenon, and if you want to keep your job and your good reputation, you probably are, too.
Explore your employer’ benefits programs to see if they offer eldercare services.
A recent Workforce magazine article suggested that workplace eldercare management services could be a good solution to this challenge, as they combine strategies to help employees keep their job performance at high levels by eliminating some of the stress that arises from worrying about how to care for their aging relatives.
And, indeed, some companies offer a variety of workplace eldercare services. These can and do range from support groups to access to geriatric care managers to flexible paid time off to discounted back-up home care for emergency needs. It’s worth checking in with your human resources department to see what options may be available to you.
The Society for Human Resource Management cautions, though, that there’s been a steady decrease in the number of employers who offer eldercare programs in the last few years, due, in part, to the recession. Despite that, some employers are experimenting with eldercare options that might offer relief to employees while remaining cost-effective.
And there may be more on the horizon.
A March 2012 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving predicts that employers should plan for “a growing number of employees who will have eldercare responsibilities in the future” as the population ages and more people have to take on the responsibilities of caring for their elders. These employees may even delay their own retirement, but will still need assistance in caring for their parents or other relatives.
But what if your employer doesn’t offer any eldercare benefits right now? Or you’re self-employed? You may want to investigate getting assistance from other sources. Two great places to investigate possible benefits that may be available to your parents—and thus to you—arewww.benefitscheckup.org/ and www.govbenefits.gov. You can explore the possibilities based on your own unique situation.
Other good resources from the government that might help you include the federal Administration on Aging at www.aoa.gov, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Americans with Disabilities Act website at www.ada.gov, and, if your parent was a veteran, the Veterans’ Administration at www.va.gov. You may also want to check with your own local Area Agency on Agency, which you can find atwww.n4a.org/about-n4a/?fa=aaa-title-VI.
Caring for loved ones while juggling multiple, additional strenuous parts of your life such as a day-to-day job can be exceptionally draining. Which is why caregivers need care too. Here’s hoping more companies will offer eldercare support, which could help them as much as it could help their employees.