How to Support Employees Newly Caring for Elderly Parents

From consolidated paid time off to help with transitioning to part-time work, discover ways how to help support family caregivers in the workplace.

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How to Support Employees Newly Caring for Elderly and Aging Parents

A family caregiver is anyone who takes care of a dependent child or elderly parent. People caring for an older parent or loved one typically aren’t compensated, so this role is sometimes referred to as an unpaid caregiver.

According to AARP, there are currently over 40 million unpaid elder caregivers in the United States caring for those age 50 or older. When compared with statistics from 2015, that’s an increase of over 8 million people — and many of these caregivers are under pressure trying to juggle their careers while taking care of an aging parent.

In reality, 56% of family elder care providers mention experiencing one or more work-related stress issues. This can include things like working more or fewer hours, taking paid or unpaid time off, or switching to different hours than normal.

Have you anticipated the needs of your employees caring for their elderly parents?

56% of family elder care providers mention experiencing one or more work-related stress issues.

Caring for aging baby boomers

For anyone unfamiliar with the term, Baby Boomer refers to those individuals born after World War II between 1946 and 1964. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that by 2030, everyone in the Baby Boomer generation will be age 65 or older. And, as they age, the number of elderly caregivers is expected to grow.

That leaves many Gen X and Millennials on the cusp of transitioning into adult family caregivers. But what happens when they are struggling between working a full-time job and caring for a dependent elderly parent?

Adult daycare centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health aides offer a few options, but oftentimes circumstances dictate that the responsible family member wants to or needs to take a more hands-on approach.

How to support employees caring for aging parents

When an employee suddenly faces the challenge of caring for a parent, what are their options?

At the same time, how does eldercare support benefit your company? Quite simply, when your workers feel like you care, they are less likely to leave your company resulting in higher retention and lower turnover rates.

Providing effective eldercare resources can help reduce stress, increase productivity, and improve their overall well-being. Here are the top 4 ways you can help support employee caregivers at your organization.

1. Transition them to part-time work

Your older employees may have already been thinking of taking early retirement, but now that they have the added responsibility of caring for an aging parent, they may be rethinking those timelines.

An AARP study on the financial burden of family caregivers reported 26% are spending their own money to help cover caregiving expenses. Covering these out-of-pocket costs often causes a strain on employee finances.

Instead of having to choose between full-time work or leaving the workforce, some employers give caregiving employees the option to transition to part-time roles. This is particularly valuable to both parties when they have years of experience, know your company’s processes, and have proven they are a good cultural fit.

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2. Consolidate paid time off

If you’re not already consolidating all time-off benefits into one program, now is the time to consider it. A paid time off (PTO) program is one where all vacation, personal, mental health, and sick days are grouped into a single category.

PTO means no more micromanaging a person’s reason for requesting leave. This gives your employees flexibility on when and how to use their PTO. As long as they are giving proper notice their time off request should be approved.

This benefit is appreciated by most employees and quickly becoming the norm.  In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 45% of workers in the U.S. had access to a consolidated leave plan. Many organizations encourage employee loyalty by allotting PTO based on how long individuals have worked for the company. And, to up the ante, some businesses now offer unlimited PTO as a perk to help recruit new hires.

3. Let them work from home

Offering flexible work options is one way to help with retention while providing your valuable team members with a work-life balance solution.

Is working from home as a family caregiver possible? Due to financial restrictions, most people can’t afford to quit their job to take care of an aging parent, but a CNBC study reported that without support, 4 in 10 people may face the difficult challenge of choosing between work or in-home caregiving duties.

Consider letting your employees work from home or switch to a hybrid office/remote schedule. Offering flexible work options is one way to help with retention while providing your valuable team members with a work-life balance solution.

You may need to sit down and work out the details, such as what you expect and if there are certain hours they need to be available. However, as long as the employee is attending mandatory virtual meetings and producing as expected, they’re free to work from any location. Remote work options give employees the flexibility to deal with any caregiving challenges, such as emergency doctor appointments.

4. Offer flexible spending arrangements

Flexible spending arrangements, or FSAs, aren’t just for taking care of an employee’s own medical expenses. Any of your workers are also eligible to set up an FSA account if their elder parent qualifies as their dependent. FSAs let your employees set aside a certain amount of pre-tax dollars for reimbursement of qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses each year.

For 2022, the IRS has raised the FSA limit to $2,850 in contributions. There are 2 different types — healthcare FSAs and dependent care FSAs — and depending on your employee’s circumstances, they may decide to set up both.

Healthcare FSAs cover things like doctor co-pays, hospital visits, and most other medical care not covered by the parent’s insurance. With a dependent care FSA, your employees can use the pre-tax savings for their relevant adult dependent care expenses.

Future of caregiver support services

Taking care of elderly parents is a distraction that can potentially affect your employees’ work performance. Support your team members as well as your bottom line when you provide caregiving resources and benefits.

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