How to help employees balance work and caregiving

According to a survey published in Insights on Canadian Society, even though 39 percent of family members who take care of aging parents, only 5 percent receive any form of support, financial or otherwise, from the government. For the other 34% (and likely more in coming years), it's important for companies to help employees who care for their parents.

Here are some things you could suggest to the company you work for (or implement in your company, if you're an owner) to help yourself or others who are working while also caring for their aging parents.

How to help employees balance work and caregiving

Flexible working hours

it's very difficult to adhere to strict schedules when taking care of aging parents.

All sorts of things such as doctor's appointments, diet schedules and medical emergencies place demands on any caregiving family member's time.

As a result, employees who are also caregivers are more likely to be either late for work or wish they could arrive later or leave earlier.

If companies allow employees who are also caregivers to work flexible hours or from home, they can help remove this time-related stress and improve productivity.

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.

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.

A day care centre that is also affiliated with a health centre could be a good option.

EAP or Employee Assistance Program

EAP programs are designed to take care of the emotional well-being of the caregiving family member.

These programs are also 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.

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 so much 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 strategies for long-term payment, Medicare, powers of attorney, retirement plans (including taxation and estate planning) and planning for the caregiver's own retirement.

Having your company put a cost-effective strategy to help employed caregivers in place will help to alleviate their stress. These more relaxed employees can then have an easier time balancing their responsibilities as an employee and a caregiving family member.

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