Working caregivers - and their employers - feel the pinch

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

By Suzanne Burke, President and CEO of Council on Aging

Right this minute some of your most trusted employees, contractors, colleagues and maybe even your boss are not giving their full effort.

That’s because in addition to their careers, managing a household, and other responsibilities as parents and partners, they’re spending 10, 20 or more hours a week caring for an older or disabled loved one. And it’s more common than you think. More than one in six working Americans is a family caregiver.

The effects of juggling these responsibilities are not immediately obvious, but caregiving can have a significant impact on our physical, emotional, even financial well-being.

For example, according to AARP, working family caregivers spend a significant amount of money – nearly 20 percent of their annual incomes – on out-of-pocket caregiving expenses. Caring for someone with dementia? Double the costs. This additional spending means employee-caregivers are cutting back on other expenses, such as saving for retirement, and many report financial strain due to taking unpaid time off to provide care.

And that’s just the beginning. Employee-caregivers face difficult choices. They may give over vacation or sick time to care for a family member. Many report having to rearrange work schedules or cut back hours – even passing up assignments or promotions. A recent study found that unpaid caregivers sacrifice up to $3 TRILLION in lost income from wages and benefits EVERY YEAR.

That’s more than just lost income for individuals. It’s lost opportunity and productivity for employers. The same study reported that employers incur annual financial losses between $17 billion and $33 billion due to absenteeism.

This is a cultural issue that needs to be addressed at the community level. Council on Aging is working to ensure area families have the information and resources they need to find balance in all of their responsibilities – work, family and caregiving.

Join us today by asking your company to circulate our anonymous caregiver needs assessment survey. Your input will help us develop programs and services to help meet the needs of employee-caregivers in our community. Contact us for more information.

If you or someone you know needs help with caregiving right away, use our contact form or call us at (513) 721-1025.