Long term care is a family business that is costing U.S. businesses a lot of money. Over 42 million Americans (21% of all U.S. households) act as family caregivers every year. Many are employed and must cut back on their hours or leave their jobs entirely. In addition, the vast majority of family caregivers contribute significant hours to the care of loved ones without any compensation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, businesses lose an average of 2.8 million work days each year due to unplanned absences costing employers nearly $74 billion. In fact, the impact on employment is so significant that 11 percent of workers will take a leave of absence and 10 percent ultimately will quit their jobs.
The ratio between female and male employees who act as a family caregiver is 60/40 with males missing on average 12 work days a year and females missing 33 work days a year. Not only is this a physicals and emotionally draining circumstance, but this reality is a significant drain on personal incomes, family budgets and the U.S. economy. The Congressional Commission on Long Term Care cited in their report that the value of uncompensated care provided by family members ($450 billion) is more than double the amount of actual dollars spent on long term care ($211 billion).
Many families don’t even recognize the fact that they have begun taking on the role of being a caregiver. It can be a slippery slope where either people don’t recognize, or are unwilling to admit that their loved one needs care and they have become the caregiver. As this process overtakes a family, they feel like they are just “helping out” and saving money by doing it themselves. But, the time and physical commitment it takes to care for a loved one just keeps growing as it eats into work hours and income. This of course can result in the unintended consequence that just at the time that paying for care becomes necessary, the loss of income makes that impossible and pushes the caregiver over the edge of becoming a full-time, unpaid caregiver.
Employers have started to act by offering assistance to employees trying to juggle the demands of being a family caregiver while also being employed. Approximately 33% of large employers have implemented eldercare support programs, such as:
- Access to alternative funding options such as converting life insurance policies into Long Term Care Benefits; VA Aide and Attendance; Reverse Mortgages, etc.
- Benefits such as flextime, telecommuting, and job-sharing
- Programs to provide respite care, adult day services, and caregiver support groups
- Information, referral, and educational programs
- Employee and/or employer funded long-term care insurance.
To help employers estimate their productivity costs for working caregivers, visit: www.eldercarecalculator.com
Long Term Care is a family business because it often requires the participation and active support of one or more family members to help a loved one. Businesses are realizing that they are losing billions of dollars in hard costs and lost productivity. The government is recognizing the financial cost to families, business and tax payers. Now through the growing realization that a variety of funding and innovative care options exist that can help, and the willingness of businesses to institute support programs for families—there may be less burden on families and the U.S. economy.
- Caregiving in the United States, released by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP
- The MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Business, released by MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving
- Congressional Commission on Long Term Care
About the Author
Chris Orestis is CEO and co-founder of Life Care Funding; a nationally known senior care advocate and 18-year veteran of both the life insurance and long-term care industries. He is the author of the book “Help on the Way”, and is a legislative expert, featured speaker, columnist and contributor to a number of insurance and long term care industry publications. His blog on senior living issues can be found at www.lifecarefunding.com/blog. He can be reached at (888) 670-7773 or firstname.lastname@example.org.