More than 1 in 6 American workers also work as unpaid caregivers, spending some portion of their day caring for elder loved ones. And with the population aging — an average of 10,000 people turn 65 every day — this trend will only continue.
With this sweeping demographic change, more employers recognize they need to be proactive in supporting their employees with elder-care benefits. They understand the effects that home obligations have on workers and they’re reaching out to help, allowing employees to stay focused at work while also better caring for their loved ones.
Here are some top elder-care benefits that you can offer to help care for the caregivers on your payroll.
Chances are some of your employees are providing care to at least one aging relative in some way -- getting them to appointments, calling to check up on prescriptions, researching retirement communities or even caring for them at home. These responsibilities can lead to absences, stress and decreased productivity.
Flexible Work Options
Work-life balance is no longer just a nice-to-have option; it’s a must-have when it comes to recruitment and retention. And benefits designed to support caregivers are an important factor in drawing and keeping great people. Flexible working hours, paid time off and telecommuting options are the obvious place to start, but the leading companies understand that more generous, creative new benefits help employees care for loved ones even as they remain on the job.
Employee Assistance Programs
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are short-term programs that offer employees fast, confidential help when personal problems arise that may affect their job performance and wellbeing. EAPs typically include help with issues such as mental health, substance abuse, counseling, parenting and child care, financial information, legal services and pet care. They often cover not just the employee but anyone living in the employee’s household, including aging parents and adult children.
For elder care, EAPs help employees when they need support such as companion services, home health care and safety monitoring.
Helping employees gain access to caregivers who can lend a hand when existing plans fall through is a critical option for reducing the absenteeism and sinking job performance that can happen from stress at home. Employers can provide caregivers with access to resources that can help them manage their own stress and anxiety.
Many companies now offer respite, support and backup care services that help caregivers when a need arises, and they provide information about residential care and access to geriatric care managers. Some leading employers are also allowing employees to use flexible spending account funds for elder care.
Many companies offer employees access to advisers on long-term caregiver plans, medical options, and financial and legal assistance. Some of the best benefits connect employees with counselors, customized referrals to community resources and workshops that allow them to learn more about legal issues, finances and medical conditions like dementia.
Expanded Insurance Coverage
Many Americans are aging without coverage for long-term care, and as they grow older it can become cost-prohibitive, even if they qualify for Medicaid. Fortunately for some caregivers, however, employers are stepping in to help. Offering employees the option to acquire long-term-care insurance not just for themselves, their spouse and their children but also for their aging parents is a lifeline for caregivers worried about ensuring their parents receive the best possible care as they age.
This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2018.