A recent study by Met Life estimated that employees having caregiving responsibilities to elder family members cost U.S. employers approximately $13.4 billion per year. The study cites a number of factors contributing to this cost:
• employees providing eldercare were more likely to report depression, diabetes, hypertension or pulmonary disease regardless of age, gender and work type.
• eldercare demands were associated with greater health risk behaviors including smoking and alcohol use.
• employed caregivers find it more difficult than non-caregivers to take care of their own health. For examples, women caregivers were less likely to report annual mammograms than non-caregivers.
• employees with eldercare responsibilities were more likely to report missed days of work.
• younger caregivers (age 18 to 39) demonstrated significantly higher rates of cholesterol, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, kidney disease, and heart disease in comparison to non-caregivers of the same age.
The stress of caregiving can be partially alleviated by knowing that a plan is in place to access and pay for care when the present situation simply becomes unworkable. Many families have expressed to us that they are completely stretched with the responsibilities that they are currently facing and experience anxiety when they consider the fact that many of the health problems elders face become worse over time. Sometimes families continue providing 100% of the care needed because they have not explored funding sources that may be available to provide extra help.
Employers can improve bottom lines and the quality of life for their employees by ensuring that information is available to their employees about how to find, assess and pay for care.