Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Costs of Caring For the Elderly

This will be a very interesting situation to watch.   Hopefully,  it will not give rise to another marketplace bias against women, who are often the primary caregiver for both children and aging parents.

Most people are familiar with the remnants of sexism that impacts hiring policies.   But now many workers in their 40s or 50s have also encountered a degree of ageism in the marketplace.    The theory being that in general, workers in their 20s to early 30's are often single,  have fewer family responsibilities, lower compensation demands and,  while less experienced are available to work vast amounts of overtime.   Conversely,  workers in their 30s and 40s often have more family and financial responsibilities,  higher compensation demands, school age children or aging parents,  and while more experienced are less able and/or willing to commit to spending 45 to 60 hours a week on the job.   While there is some basis for this theory many older workers are suddenly finding doors closed to them without knowing why.


Employers' Cost For Elder Caregiving Is on the Rise


July 11, 2006; Page D2
Read the entire article at:


U.S. employers are paying an increasingly steep price in lost productivity for workers who take time off from their jobs to care for elderly family members.

Working caregivers cost businesses as much as $34 billion a year, or an average $2,110 each for the estimated 15.9 million caregivers working full time, according to research to be released today by the nonprofit National Alliance for Caregiving and MetLife Inc. Employers' annual cost is about 16% higher, or $4 billion more a year, when compared with the results of a similar study in 1997.

For employees juggling work and caregiving, "it's important for an employer to realize that there's the potential for disruption and absenteeism," says Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute in Westport, Conn., "and it's likely that the situation is going to get worse" as the parents of working baby boomers enter their 80s in larger numbers.

The study found that productivity costs climbed even higher -- by 49% -- for the estimated seven million working caregivers who provide 12 to 87 hours of intense care each week for an adult over the age of 50.

The researchers defined that level of care as including at least two basic tasks often referred to as "activities of daily living": bathing, dressing, eating, getting out of bed and using the toilet.

Such caregivers also were helping with at least four "instrumental activities of daily living" -- such as financial management, transportation, help with medications, shopping or preparing meals.

"Elder adults at home are sicker and have more medical needs than in the past" and require more-intense caregiving, says Gail Hunt, president and chief executive of the National Alliance for Caregiving in Bethesda, Md.

To calculate employer costs, the researchers used a 2004 survey of 1,247 caregivers, with a 2.8-percentage-point margin of error, by the alliance and AARP in Washington, D.C.
Replacing the estimated 9% of caregivers who wind up quitting their jobs is the most expensive caregiving-related problem for employers, costing an estimated $6.6 billion a year, the study found. Workday interruptions, estimated to cost $6.3 billion a year, were based on an hour a week for 50 weeks a year, which is "pretty conservative," says MetLife's Ms. Timmermann.

Some large employers, such as Ford Motor Co., provide workers with aid from geriatric-care managers or employee-assistance programs that help them pinpoint social services that can relieve some caregiving tasks.  Most employers -- particularly the small and midsize businesses that often are hardest hit when a worker has to take time off or quit -- don't, Ms. Hunt says.

To help businesses estimate their own lost-productivity costs, MetLife and the alliance created an online calculator ( The site links to the report, which lists low-cost resources to help employers give caregivers the flexibility they need to stay on the job

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.