By Suzanne Burke, CEO
COA recently had the pleasure to partner with Messer Construction, Co. to launch our Greater Cincinnati employee caregiver survey. We know from recent national data and research that family caregivers who also work full- or part-time are increasingly squeezed by these dual responsibilities. Even so, it was eye-opening to see the level at which Messer employees are currently – or will soon be – dealing with caregiving issues.
About a third of employees who participated at Messer reported they are currently acting as caregivers for an adult family member or other loved one. This is a significant proportion in and of itself, but what is even more startling is that almost nine out of 10 respondents expected to fill a caregiver role in the future. Most typically for a parent or in-law.
The types of support provided by Messer’s employee-caregivers varies, but some trends were apparent. Almost half are called on for transportation and a like number—with some overlap no doubt—regularly attend medical appointments with their loved one. Smaller, but still significant numbers of families, provide overnight care or full-time housing for an older loved one.
For almost 20 percent of Messer employees who are caregivers, it’s a daily commitment. That’s apparent in the toll they report caregiving has on their professional and personal lives. Half report taking time off work to care for an older family member. Almost as many state they currently are fatigued, stressed or otherwise made unhappy due to their family responsibilities. One in three admit that their work is frequently interrupted to deal with the personal issues of their loved one.
For Council on Aging, it was telling that most survey respondents at Messer did not know of any local organizations that help seniors or caregivers. That is our role, precisely. As more companies participate in our survey – and we need more local companies to come forward – we will look for ways to better serve working caregivers and their employers.
In Messer’s case, employees wanted to learn more about Council on Aging’s program’s and services, so we will work with the company to plan an educational session that meets their employees’ needs and fits in with their workplace culture.
If you would like to learn more about how caregiving is impacting your employees, participate in our survey. Ask your employer or human resources department to get involved. We have a toolkit that makes it easy to launch the anonymous survey across your organization. Contact us today to learn more.
If you or someone you know needs help with caregiving right away, contact us at (513) 721-1025 or www.help4seniors.org.