The challenges of caregiving and working full or part time are endless. For the purpose of this post, I will speak to the challenges of working and caring for an aging relative. As recently published in the 2014 National Study of Employers, working caregivers and the employers who support them minimize the impact on work place performance if appropriate work place accommodations to support caregivers are in place. In this study it was noted that more employers in 2014 are offering at least 12 weeks of leave for workers who care for seriously ill family members than in 2008. www.familiesandwork.org/downloads/2014NationalStudyOfEmployers.pdf ). I am thrilled to learn that more organizations are recognizing this growing cultural and economic shift and the impact that it will have on our employers and employees. Unfortunately, this benefit does not apply to every situation.
On the rise is adult children’s involvement in the day to day situations with which their parent struggles. I am not referring to a seriously ill family member. I am talking about the continuum of aging and the way our families are impacted from the first signs of aging over time. We must approach FAMILY AGING as a global care team which includes the employers. Why not have work place policies that allow for short periods of time off (2 hours) to take a parent to a doctor’s appointment, or to make a visit in the hospital/residence during the day? Sure, we can visit our family after work but the nurse in charge or doctor is never there at that time so obtaining updates or supervising care becomes impossible. If an employer allows an employee to leave for two hours a week to make that visit and connect with the care team I believe that their overall productivity rate will be higher because they won’t be chasing their tail with phone calls, emails, and water cooler discussions during the day.
Personally, I think we need to start looking at elder care benefits in the same way we look at child care and maternity benefits. Not every woman has a child but those benefits are there to access. Not every family has an elder care challenge either so why not have those benefits as readily available too?
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