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Helping Those Who Helped Us: How to Support Employees Providing Eldercare

Helping Those Who Helped Us: How to Support Employees Providing Eldercare
Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 by Rae Shanahan

Longer lifespans, better medicines, and an aging population mean that more and more Americans are caring for an aging adult.


In fact, in 2015 there are approximately 44 million caregivers providing unpaid care for loved ones. And for many Gen X’ers and older Millennials, providing eldercare at the same time that they’re also raising children puts them in the “sandwich generation” of caregivers helping two groups of people at once. 

As a result, it’s likely that members of your workforce are providing eldercare for a parent or relative, which can be both emotionally and financially challenging. Your HR department may have to address questions about schedules, or if there are benefits to help employees who are providing this type of care.  

The good news is there are strategies that your organization can implement to assist employees who are caring for their older family members, thereby providing them with support and peace of mind, and helping them stay engaged while they’re at work. As this situation becomes more common, you can differentiate your organization by adopting practices for eldercare support. Start with these three strategies: 

  1. Expand dependent care accounts. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are a great tool for employees to set aside pre-tax dollars for dependent care costs. It’s possible that your organization is already offering this benefit to parents with children in daycare. Expanding these accounts to include costs for nursing facilities, at-home care, or adult daycare can help your employees save on the often significant cost of eldercare. For those sandwich generation employees, both childcare and eldercare costs can be mitigated with this benefit. 
  2. Provide informational support. It can be difficult to navigate the legal, financial, and medical issues involved in caring for an aging relative. Consider providing a referral service that can help your employees find backup care for their loved one, should an emergency arise. These services can also help employees find lawyers, since caregivers often need to establish power of attorney or handle the sale of a home. And, financial advice can be a welcome benefit as employees juggle the costs of caring for parents, managing their own budget, and potentially supporting children as well.  
  3. Offer flexible schedules. Parents of young children have to adjust when their child is suddenly ill, or when their babysitter can’t make it for a day. So too do employees providing eldercare need to ensure their family member is being cared for properly at all times. When a home health aide can’t make a visit or transportation to a doctor’s appointment falls through, your employees may need to work remotely or change their schedule. Be flexible in these situations to help with work-life balance. Employees rated the ability to take time off for family medical issues as the most highly empathetic behavior in our 2018 State of Workplace Empathy study, so don’t hesitate to flex those empathy muscles when employees need to help their parents or older relatives.  

The more we can give back to the generations that raised us, the stronger our family bonds can be. Supporting your employees who are providing eldercare is a wonderful way to let your workforce know you understand their needs.

Want to learn about the benefits that your employees really want?