4 ways employers can help workers care for their aging parents

Office productivity suffers when employees have to devote time to caring for elderly parents, especially if they're in poor health. Here's how employers can help.

4 ways employers can help workers care for their aging parents

According to a survey published in Insights on Canadian Society, even though 39 per cent of family caregivers take care of aging parents, only five per cent receive any form of support, financial or otherwise, from the government, which is why it's important companies help employees who care for their parents.

1. Flexible working hours

it's very difficult to adhere to strict schedules when taking care of aging parents. Everything from doctor's appointments, diet schedules and medical emergencies demands a caregiver's time. As a result, employees are either late for work or wish they could arrive later or leave earlier. Companies can improve productivity if they allow these employees to work flexible hours or permit them to work from home, if possible.

2. Day care for parents

If companies provide day care for their employees' parents at a marginal cost, their staff will have fewer domestic worries to tackle, resulting in improved productivity at work. Adult day care provides aging or ailing parents with an opportunity to mingle with people other than their caregivers and participate in social activities organized by the adult day care. An adult day care centre also affiliated with a health centre can be a good option.

3. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

In addition to taking care of the emotional well-being of the caregiver, EAP programs are geared to provide assistance and resources for dealing with the financial, legal and medical aspects of illnesses like arthritis, Alzheimer's, cancer, dementia, diabetes and depression.

4. Resources for financial planning

Most employees are ill-prepared to take on the financial responsibility of caring for an old and unwell parent. Sometimes providing for aged parents is enough of a drain on financial resources that adult children worry about how they can manage their own retirement. Companies can offer free sessions on financial planning that include resources and information on topics such as strategies for long-term payment, powers of attorney, retirement plans (including taxation and estate planning) and planning for the caregiver's own retirement.

Implementing a cost-effective strategy to help employed caregivers will in turn alleviate their stress and help them better balance their responsibilities as an employee and a caregiver.

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