Caregiving—including care of elderly persons who are frail and dependent—has always been a primary function of the family. Today this function has assumed new significance because more women have entered the workplace. Childcare and eldercare issues have become important workplace issues as employees strive to balance work and family caregiving responsibilities.
As portrayed in the "burning-the-candle-at-both-ends" image above, the process of balancing work and family can be stressful. As many as 10 percent to 31 percent of working caregivers leave their jobs as a result of caregiving responsibilities—some elect to retire early; others quit working altogether. Most working caregivers, however, make workplace accommodations and try their best to create a balance between work and caregiving responsibilities.
A 2010 report produced by the MetLife Mature Market Institute with the National Alliance for Caregiving, in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Aging, noted that employees in the United States who are caring for an older relative are more likely to report health problems like depression, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, costing employers an estimated 8 percent per year, or $13.4 billion, in additional health care expenses each year.
The report stated that younger caregivers (ages 18 to 39) cost their employers 11 percent more for health care than noncaregivers. Male caregivers cost an additional 18 percent. It also said that eldercare may be closely associated with high-risk behaviors like smoking and alcohol consumption. Exacerbating the potential impact to employers is the possibility that these medical conditions may also lead to disability-related absences. For more information, read the press release at: www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/mmi-pressroom/2010/mmi-caregiver-health-costs-pr.pdf
To address the growing needs of employees who are adult caregivers, six University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension family living educators and the program specialist in aging developed and piloted the “Employed Caregiver Survey.” This confidential, web-based survey process produces an executive summary and a longer report, both of which define the scope and needs of employed caregivers and make recommendations for assistance. Data gleaned from the The “Employed Caregiver Survey” will provide a solid foundation for the establishment of future caregiver educational programs and outreach.
For complete instructions on how to implement the "Employed Caregiver Survey," click here.
To access the survey, a person representing an employer (e.g., a person in a Human Resource Department or an Extension county educator) first completes and submits the registration form below.
Once the registration form is processed, a survey designed for that particular employer/workplace is made accessible online. When given the website address for the survey, employees anonymously complete the survey, which takes about 10 minutes. Information provided by the survey cannot be linked to any particular individual, and responses to items about gender, age, and race are optional.
Once employees have anonymously completed the survey, all of the information is collected and sent to the contact person for the employer. Using templates furnished in the "Report Tools" section below, this individual prepares both a report and an executive summary. These reports, which bear the name of the employer (agency or organization), can be shared with employees and used in discussions about how best to address the needs of employees who are caregivers.