How Organizations Help Employees Manage The High Costs of Eldercare

Mark Sagor

Last week the Boston Globe published a chart which details the current costs, in dollars and in time, of providing care for an older family member (It is worth noting that the chart appears in the business section because the astounding numbers illustrate just how significant this issue is for many employees and for the organizations that employ them)








Eldercare responsibilities are on the rise because of the aging demographics of our population and the medical technologies which allow us to live longer.

When that call for help comes from Mom or Dad, it often ends up generating extraordinary time demands. Sixty-three percent of caregivers are spending more than 11 hours per week on eldercare related tasks and half of that group is spending more than 31 hours per week.

Just imagine needing to find time for another 31 hours of tasks in your week. Which account would you raid to “borrow” these hours: Work? Sleep?

On top of the time crunch there is often (for 46% of caregivers) the added financial stress of coming up with an extra $5000 for out of pocket expenses.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) see the steep price employees are paying every day in the calls they make to us for help.

It’s not a matter of work ethic or job title or tenure with the company. Feelings and responsibilities toward parents (and grandparents) are fundamental components of identity and most people try to find a way to help even if their health and work performance suffer in the process.

This is why companies are, wisely, making investments in offering services (as part of their benefit package) which support employees with eldercare issues.

The components of a comprehensive approach to eldercare services include:

  • Geriatric specialists consult with employees to help them understand what types of services are available and which ones would be most appropriate for their elder relative. The learning curve is very steep when it comes to understanding the variety of programs available and it can save families valuable time and prevent unnecessary stress to have the guidance of an expert in these matters.
  • Once the employee determines what type of support they need there is still the matter of finding specific providers in their elder relative’s community. Often the children or grandchildren live in a distant location further complicating the problem of finding the right eldercare vendors. Eldercare resource and referral services can help employees find the right local solution anywhere in the United States or Canada.
  • Geriatric financial & legal  consultants help employees understand the complicated array of thorny legal issues that often need to be addressed as part of supporting an elder family member: power of attorney, living wills, health care proxies, Medicaid spend downs, estate plans etc.
  • Counseling support for caregivers experiencing stress.Providing ongoing care and support to an elder can evoke mixed emotions ranging from a sense of accomplishment and pride to guilt, anger and frustration. Counseling helps caregivers cope with the strain of caregiving and encourages developing strategies for making sure they are meeting their own needs as well.

Many EAPs now offer eldercare support as an integrated component of their program.

If your company has these benefits make sure they are well publicized.

The demographic trends suggest that, sooner or later, many of your employees will need this type of assistance.