Why should employers care about eldercare needs? Three reasons:
- The eldercare need is growing,
- Eldercare impacts employees in dramatic ways, and
- Eldercare currently costs employers billions.
Read more to gain a better understanding of this current and growing problem.
1. The Need
The need for eldercare is growing in the United States.
The number of older Americans is growing disproportionately to the rest of the population.
For example, according to Statista, just 8% of the population was 65 years and older in 1950. Today, approximately 17% of the population is older than 65. By 2050, this percentage is expected to grow to 22%.
Some evidence exists that Americans may be aging more slowly. By contrast, a 2016 government report indicated that the percentage of people older than 65 with chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, and diabetes, was higher in 2013-2014 than in 1997-1998. Chronic diseases lead to more disability and frailty.
Furthermore, functional limitations, such as mobility and self-care issues, increase with age and chronic illness. The result is the need for more caregivers.
At the same time, the incidence of disabling conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are increasing and are expected to continue to expand. Furthermore, most people with dementia live in the community, and these people require extensive care.
In fact, more than 16 million family members and friends provided 18.5 billion hours of unpaid caregiving to people with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016 alone.
Why should this matter to employers?
In 2020, the ratio of working adults to retired adults is only 3.5:1 according to US census data. By 2060, this proportion will plummet to 2.5 working adults to 1 retired person. It is already increasingly more difficult to hire and retain talented employees.
As the job market becomes increasingly tighter, employers will need to develop creative eldercare solutions that both address the caregiving need and the ability to attract and retain valuable employees.
2. Impact on Employees
Caregiver stress and responsibilities impact employees.
Who is providing and will provide eldercare for the vast majority of these retirees as they age?
What’s more, caregiving is affecting your employees in a variety of ways.
The financial cost is a burden to employees and is likely to get worse. In 2019, long-term care facilities cost $7,500+ a year, and at-home care was more than $4,300 a month. Additionally, these costs are escalating.
Due to low incomes, high debt, and small savings, many soon-to-be retirees do not have enough money to maintain their living standard or their care. This is causing and will continue to result in more out-of-pocket expenditures for their adult children, a.k.a. your employees.
Eldercare Impacts Both Women and Men
As a result of the expense, more and more employees are providing double duty as caregivers. Women shoulder the greatest burden of this responsibility, but caregiving is not limited to female employees alone.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, women were more likely than men to provide eldercare on a given day—27 percent of female eldercare providers engaged in eldercare activities on an average day, compared with 24 percent of male eldercare providers. On days they provided eldercare, men and women spent nearly the same amount of time providing this care (3.5 hours and 3.3 hours, respectively).
Both men and women report that their caregiving responsibilities have limited their career trajectories. These eldercare responsibilities can also make employees late to work, distracted at work, or force them to leave work early or suddenly. In turn, this creates added pressure for these individuals, particularly when deadlines loom and/or workload demands increase.
Impact on Health
Caregiving takes its toll both emotionally and physically. Caregiving employees may come to work exhausted. The healthcare costs for depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are 8% higher among caregiving employees than non-caregiving employees. These are costs employers are bearing in the form of higher health insurance premiums.
3. Impact on Employers
Caregiver stress and responsibilities result in real costs to employers.
Impact on Healthcare Expenditures
The aforementioned 8% increase in healthcare bills translates to expenditures of an additional $13.4 billion a year.
Crises and other unexpected events can result in employees taking temporary leaves of absence. If employees take these leaves, employers must work short-staffed or pay for temporary help.
One in three caregivers will quit as a result of the conflicting demands between employment and caregiving. Of that one-third, 32% quit for eldercare. Another 25% voluntarily resign to care for an ill spouse, partner, family member, or friend. According to a Harvard Business School study, this is especially true for men and women with the highest titles and most responsibilities.
The loss of talented and tenured employees creates a gap in institutional knowledge. The gap in historical knowledge can lead to critical errors, “re-inventing the wheel,” and lost productivity when previously known answers must be sought anew.
Companies are increasingly finding it difficult to hire talented experienced employees, and recruiting new talent is an expensive proposition. The cost of recruiting after caregiving employees leave is estimated at $6.6 billion annually.
Absenteeism, Presenteeism, and Unexpected Events
Productivity is reduced when employees are distracted, forced to call in sick, or are called away for unexpected events or crises. Absenteeism and workday changes (leaving early, coming late) are estimated to cost employers $5.1 billion and $6.3 billion, respectively.
Employers will have an increasingly difficult time recruiting and retaining high-quality employees. With the growing senior population, employees need to help family members with unpaid eldercare services. Without intervention, this will continue to impact employees and employers for years to come. That’s why Homethrive exists.