The Cost of Care for Employee Caregivers
This month the Cariloop blog has focused on the financial strain of caregiving. Unfortunately, the more families we help and the more research we do, the more Cariloop sees the strain of caregiving seeping into every aspect of the caregiver’s life—especially for caregivers who also work full time.
Harvard Health estimates that family members provide $642 billion worth of unpaid care for spouses, parents and relatives each year. Combine that number with the reality that 60% of family caregivers are employed (i.e. an estimated 23.9 million employees), and it is safe to conclude that caregiving is very costly to both employees and their employers.
Genworth reports that caregivers miss an average of 7 hours of work per week and lose an average of 33% of their income each year of caregiving. Since the average caregiving experience is 4 years, this means the average caregiver is losing more than a year’s worth of income due to just one caregiving event.
An AARP report furthers the strain of caregiving on workplace productivity, “6 in 10 caregivers report having to make workplace accommodations as a result of caregiving, such as cutting back on their work hours, taking a leave of absence, receiving a warning about performance or attendance or other such impacts.” What’s more, Genworth suggests that caregivers spend an average of $10,000 out of pocket annually for caregiving expenses.
Clearly, the cost of care for epmloyee caregivers places burdens on their workplace productivity and financial security, but these are not the only strains that caregivers feel. The personal effects of caregiving are just as prevalent. Consider this infographic from Genworth:
All of this research points toward the fact that employee caregivers need support. So, are employee caregivers seeking support? If they are, are they being supported by their employers?
Statistics suggest that employee caregivers are at least interested in support. AARP found that more than 8 in 10 caregivers state they could use more information or help on caregiving topics.
Being interested in support, however, is much different than seeking support. In talking with many people in the midst of care crises, Cariloop’s healthcare coaches often find that caregivers feel an obligation to care for their loved one on their own—reluctant to accept the experience and understanding our healthcare coaches have to offer. Studies support this claim, as only 28% of caregivers have requested financial assistance, 23% have used transportation services and only 15% have taken advantage of respite services for their loved one.
The support doesn’t seem to be coming much from employers either, AARP states, “Among employed caregivers who are not self-employed, half say their employer offers flexible work hours (53%) or paid sick days (52%). Fewer working caregivers say their employers offer employee assistance programs (23%) or telecommuting (22%).” Clearly businesses offer little support, even though a recent study found that businesses offering flextime and telecommuting schedules to their employee caregivers saw a return on investment between $1.70 and $4.45 for every $1 invested in these policies.
At Cariloop we believe no one should go through the process of caring for aging loved ones alone. Whether you’re an HR professional looking for programs to offer your employees, or you’re an employee caregiver that is overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one, Cariloop is here for you. We are taking the difficult reality of caregiving seriously and are doing our best to offer support and solutions. All you need to do is ask for help.
By Dane Roper