COA receives Outstanding Project in Aging award

Thursday, January 23, 2020

In December, Council on Aging was honored to receive the Outstanding Project in the Field of Aging award from the Tristate chapter of the Association for Professionals in Aging (APA). The award was presented to Council on Aging CEO, Suzanne Burke, during the Tristate APA’s annual holiday luncheon and awards ceremony, Dec. 5.

COA was recognized for an innovative research project that is helping local businesses understand the impact of elder caregiving on their workforce: the Caregiving in the Workplace survey.

The survey aims to help area businesses better understand the impact elder caregiving has on their workforce. Elder caregiving is a significant issue facing businesses because of demographic shifts occurring in the country’s population – by 2034, for the first time in history, people age 65 and older will outnumber those age 18 and under. Currently, more than one in six working Americans is an elder caregiver.

Nearly 1,000 area employees have participated in the Caregiving in the Workplace survey so far. Result show:

  • 49% of employees provide care to an aging family member or friend, while maintaining regular employment
  • 81% of employees, if not already providing care, believe they will have caregiving responsibilities in the near future
  • 64% of employees have missed work to take care of their aging family member
  • 44% are stressed about their caregiving situation, while at work

The survey was piloted at Cincinnati-based Messer Construction early in 2019 and more than a dozen individual employers have participated since.

“I was amazed to learn how many of our employees are dealing with this,” said Tim Steigerwald, CEO of Messer Construction. “It turns out a third of our people are dealing with the issues of supporting an aging loved one.” Working in conjunction with COA, Messer provided training opportunities in addition to its already-existing flexible work schedule for caregiving employees.

“We wanted to make a transformational change in our community for seniors and their families. By partnering with area employers in this project, we are able to quantify the impact of caregiving for each company and the region as a whole,” shared Burke. “With their data in hand, business leaders can begin a partnership with COA to help their companies develop the needed programs to assist their employees and families.”

Employees at Cincinnati-based Horan also participated in the survey. “This is a great report and the results are eye opening,” said Mike Lakin, Horan’s vice president of new business development. “I shared it with our leadership team, so we can consider how to best partner with COA to support our employees.”