More and more working Americans must face juggling their career and family responsibilities and being a caregiver for an older parent. The problem of dementia is one of many reasons people need help with daily living activities or supervision due to memory loss. Research from Columbia University shows that nearly 10% of adults 65 and older have dementia and 22% have mild cognitive impairment.
Most families are unaware that health insurance (including Medicare and supplements) pay little or nothing toward long-term health care. What they do pay for is definitely not long-term, as only 100 days of skilled services will be covered. No matter why someone needs long-term health care, a lack of advance planning often leads to a family member becoming a caregiver.
According to "Homethrive's 2022 Employee Caregiving Survey," more than half of working caregivers would switch jobs if it meant having access to a family caregiving coordination benefit. The survey shows how difficult balancing caregiving with their job can be.
Homethrive is an employee benefits platform that offers self-service digital caregiving and health support with expert human interaction. Members have 24/7 access to get help with Medicare, Alzheimer's, long-term health care, family care and dynamics, self-care, special needs support, and more.
Few Have Help at Work
The survey showed that about two-thirds of workers don't have such a benefit, and 85% say they'd take advantage of it if their current employer offered such a benefit.
Each year, Homethrive performs an employee survey to gauge how caregivers are feeling and faring as they balance their lives.
2022's results are startling:
A 151% increase in the number of employees spending 9+ work hours per week on caregiving compared to 2021's survey
A 79% increase in the number of employees spending 5+ work hours per week on caregiving compared to last year
A 40% increase in the number of employees whose supervisors are aware of their caregiving responsibilities
Survey respondents are clearly stretched thin balancing careers and caregiving:
56% of employees worry that caregiving will negatively impact their job performance
38% of employees left work early due to their responsibilities
37% of employees missed days of work
35% of employees had to rearrange work schedules
Additionally, unpaid caregivers coordinate care for loved ones in a variety of ways:
77% go grocery shopping
75% drive to doctor's appointments or other services
70% complete housekeeping tasks
65% arrange or prepare meals
61% assist with medications
The data reinforces that working caregivers are struggling. Another recent survey found nearly 70% of employees fear they'll have to quit their jobs without paid in-home care.
Many People Don't Have LTC Insurance
While some people have Long-Term Care Insurance, those who do not find themselves finding support from their adult children or through costly professional care. Even with professional care, a family member will still have to manage that care.
Many Long-Term Care Insurance policies have case management which helps the family; otherwise, families face a crisis. In addition to providing help with daily living activities or supervision due to memory loss, family caregivers face other responsibilities.
Performing housekeeping chores, organizing or cooking meals, driving to doctor visits and other services, and helping with medication administration account for more than two-thirds of the caregiving time reported by survey participants. This is a lot of time and pressure that is placed on someone, usually a daughter or daughter-in-law.
Homethrive's Vice President of Marketing, Bonni Kaplan DeWoskin, says the aging population is making this a growing problem.
Unpaid family caregivers are unsung heroes. Our second annual 'Employee Caregiving Survey' reveals their workloads show no signs of letting up, and this underserved, yet growing population, is demanding help from their employers; they're willing to leave their jobs unless they get it.
Many Family Caregivers Work Full-Time
Most caregivers work a full-time job in addition to the hours of unpaid care they provide for others. Without formal training, friends and family frequently take on the caregiver job. They are expected to handle a variety of demanding care duties on their own.
Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of NIH's National Institute on Aging, says that because of the stress and time demands placed on caregivers, they are less likely to find time to address their health problems.
There is a substantial cost to caregiving—financially, physically, and emotionally.
Caregivers are also at risk for depression or anxiety. And they're more likely to have problems with memory and paying attention, says NIH's Dr. Erin Kent.
Caregivers may even suffer from physical health problems related to caregiving tasks, such as back or muscle injuries from lifting patients.
As more people purchase Long-Term Care Insurance, families will have financial and organizational support in the decades ahead. Most people who purchase LTC Insurance are in their 50s but are becoming caregivers for elderly or disabled parents today. This care adversely impacts their career and family.
Some Employers Have Assistance Available
Meanwhile, employers are looking for ways to help their employees deal with long-term care situations for older family members. Caryn S. Jung, program coordinator for Elder Care and Life Cycle Resources, Child Care and Family Resources, and Work-Life Support at the University of Arizona, says the university wants to offer their employees a broad array of work/life services and resources in response to evolving demographics.
By encouraging people to familiarize themselves with resources and services before a crisis occurs, we can help individuals plan ahead thoughtfully and appropriately. As with early childhood, aging is a normal process in the life cycle.
According to Jung, her office can help University of Arizona staff objectively assess their parents' functional and physical status. The office can provide recommendations and instructions on the proper levels of assistance, ranging from elder law to possibilities for respite care.
Huge Numbers of People Getting Older
Over the course of the 20th century, the number of Americans 65 and older has significantly increased, from 3.1 million in 1900 to 35 million in 2000. Stella Ogunwole, a demographic statistician with the U.S. Census Bureau, says the older population is becoming even more significant.
The Boomers, projected to number 73 million, are the second-largest generation group.
As boomers age through their 60s, 70s, 80s and increasingly beyond, the 'big bulge' of the boomer generation will contribute to the overall aging of the U.S. population in coming decades.
Being prepared is vital for retirement planning. While Long-Term Care Insurance is essential for retirement planning and protecting 401(k) and other assets, these working adults are finding themselves sandwiched between caring for older parents and their own children.
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
Unfortunately, caregiving commitments can't wait until the workday is over. Even those who don't think of themselves as primary caregivers find themselves taking a lot of time helping older parents. How will your family deal with your future need for long-term health care?
The need for future care increases as you get older. You probably have already noticed changes in your body. Declining health and mobility problems will often lead to the need for long-term health care. As you age, the chance of dementia increases, requiring supervision and care.
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