By Mary Buszuwski
After many months of late arrivals, early
departures, increased absences and missed
contract deadlines, Tom decided it was time
to sit down with Elaine to discuss her future
with the company. Elaine joined the firm 10
years ago during its startup and had been a
key member of the team helping to grow the
business to over 1,500 clients and 60 employees
Tom recalled that things seem to change
right around the same time Elaine brought
her mother to live with her after her father
died 18 months ago.
Elaine was looking forward to her meeting with Tom that afternoon. She needed to talk with him about some personal matters related to her mother. Her mother had come to live with her and her family after the death of her father. Caring for her mother who had Parkinson’s disease has been a tremendous challenge for her and her family, not to mention that the cost of private care was draining her mother’s financial resources.
With her mother’s financial resources dwindling, Elaine was trying to figure out whether Medicare or Medicaid could help pay for the care aide that came to her home every day. She would need more time away from the office to figure it all out and was going to tell Tom she would be taking 12 weeks unpaid leave as provided by the Family Medical Leave Act.
While the above scenario is fiction, it is similar to thousands of situations playing out for employers and their employees across the country. According to studies by AARP and The MetLife Mature Market Institute, some 66 million Americans provide care to aging adults.
They average 19 hours per week of caregiving and almost three-quarters of them are employed full time, close to 50 million people.
Two-thirds of employed family caregivers report having to make some adjustments to their work life, such as reporting late, leaving early or taking time off during the day due to caregiving responsibilities.
• Nearly 1 out of 3 caregivers quit their jobs, takes a leave of absence, reduce hours, or retire early to care for their loved ones.
• Employed caregivers lose between five and 12 days of work per year.
• Caregiving employees cost employers 8 percent more in health care costs, potentially amounting to an estimated $13.4 billion per year nationally.
• $33.6 billion is the estimated annual loss of productivity in the workforce due to elder care responsibilities and employers lose 2.8 million work days in unplanned absences costing nearly $74 billion.
And the challenges will not be going away. By 2020, one in three u.S. households is expected to be involved in caring for an aging or disabled adult, up from one in four households today.
In a time when employers are struggling with health care benefits for employees, elder care benefits and assistance may be the furthest thing from the minds of business owners and company leaders. But these issues will continue to present very real cost considerations for employers. There is an option available with a small financial impact to the employer yet substantial, long-term impact to the employee.
By engaging The Senior Living Specialists employers can ensure employees have access to experienced, objective advisors who can quickly assess an elder’s home-living, physical, emotional and financial needs and provide recommendations for the best possible solutions to support the senior’s health and safety.
The Senior Living Specialists assists your employees by addressing two major issues for caregivers in the work-life balance:
• Lack of knowledge or education on the resources available to them and to their elders.
• Lack of time or emotional strength to go through the process of evaluating, advocating, and accessing resources.
Dedicated to helping seniors live at home or fi nd other quality living options, we are familiar with the elder care resources and providers in Saratoga County and the Capital District. Our work place services begin with an assessment of your employees to determine the magnitude of eldercare responsibilities.
We offer “lunch and learn” sessions for employees throughout the year, beginning with an introductory session to go over our services.
The level of service and support are determined by the employer. Employees in need of service schedule an appointment and would receive a set number of hours of assistance that would provide specifi c solutions that meet both care needs and personal budgets.
This is not just a self-help referral source, but hands-on help. If employees require more time, they receive a signifi cant discount off additional private services. And we guarantee a response within 24 hours to employees with an elder care crisis. This service also includes an e-newsletter to employees that contains articles on issues about aging and eldercare.
More importantly you, as the employer, are taking a signifi cant step in helping employees with their elder-care challenges by providing a practical, personalized solution that contributes to maintaining productivity, building morale and giving you an edge in future employee recruiting.
So how would the earlier scene be replayed if The Senior Living specialists had been an employer resource for Elaine?
Tom was getting ready for his meeting with Elaine where he would inform her that she was being promoted to project manager. After 10 years with the company Elaine had become a valuable resource and contributor to the bottom line with her ability to deliver on contracts. Tom appreciated Elaine’s hard work and commitment to the company.
The advisor at The Senior Living Specialists had really helped Elaine navigate through the many programs and options that were available for her mother 18 months ago. Both Elaine and her mother selected an adult day program which gave her mother the care and social interaction she needed. Even daily transportation to and from the program was included.
And now that they needed to begin looking into Medicaid, Elaine knew her mother could stay in the program because it accepted Medicaid payment. Good thing the advisor from The Senior Living Specialists suggested that they consider places that accepted Medicaid so when the time came and her mother’s resources ran out she wouldn’t need to move to another place.
More importantly Elaine appreciated her employer’s commitment to her in providing resources like The Senior Living Specialists which made it a great place to work.
Mary Buszuwski is a certified senior advisor and founder of The Senior Living Specialists, a company dedicated to helping seniors live at home or find other quality living options. Call for a complimentary consultation at 538-3831 or learn more at www.theseniorlivingspecialists.com.
Photo Courtesy of The Senior Living Specialists