Newsletter September 2008

Elder Care Advice From The Managing Director

When I first started working from my home office in 1991, I had small children who were often underfoot requiring care and attention. While I was able to have a caregiver working at the house with the children, I found myself constantly needing to balance work deadlines and family and child care commitements. Providing care to children and older loved ones can take us away from our work physically while we take sick family members to appointments or care for them at home. It can also take us away from our work mentally with worry and feeling distracted with having to plan and organize care responsiblities. This is called “presenteeism” and it is a hidden barrier to productivity. Work and caregiving responsibilities is a fine balance that is sometimes difficult to acheive. This issue of Elder Caring eNews is focused on the ways that we as caregivers can begin to balance work and care. It also provides information on an upcoming conference that will assist caregivers who are facing caring for their loved ones with dementia.

Balancing Work and Care

One in four working Canadians experiences high levels of caregiver strain. If left unmanaged, this strain can lead to missed work, forfeited salary, and a risk of job loss. Recent research shows that caregiver strain is associated with increased absenteeism due to eldercare problems as well as emotional, physical and mental fatigue.In fact, employees with high caregiver strain are 13 times more likely than those with low caregiver strain to miss three or more days of work in a six-month period due to eldercare problems. They are also almost two times more likely to miss work because they were emotionally, physically or mentally fatigued. So what’s a working caregiver to do?

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Workplace Challenges for the Sandwich Generation

With 20% of our population reaching over age 65 by 2025 and the ratio of working-age Canadians dropping from 5:1 to 3:1 and with Canadians retiring earlier, there will be less monies available in the public and private pension systems. What does this mean? It means our government provided community based health care system will have even greater difficulty keeping up with the medical needs of our aging boomers. Families provide the majority of caregiving tasks. The time demands that are required can range from a few hours per week to 24 hour care supervision at home. For working adult children, this becomes very problematic. 8 out of 10 of these sandwiched individuals worked. Employed women spend 26.4 hours per month providing care while their male counter parts spent 14.5 hours per month.

  • 15% of sandwiched workers had to reduce their hours
  • 20% had to change their schedules
  • 10% lost income.

On average, employees providing long distance caregiving missed an average of 20 hours of work per month. The cost of caregiving is high for everyone.

Supporting employees as they provide care to aging parents is critical and more and more companies/businesses need to be able to accomodate their staff. This can be done in a variety of ways but requires flexibility – such as time sharing, flex hours, working from home, and access to quality elder care benefits. A growing trend is the recognition that hiring a professional Geriatric Care Manager to navigate the maze of services and to outline options and associated costs that can save time, money stress and worry is a beneficial way to proceed. There is a myriad of resources available both privately and publically and knowing where to start and when to start is key. By taking a proactive approach to aging and planning for it, surprises can be minimized. For more information on how we can assist, please contact us.

Upcoming Events:
A Changing Melody Forum – November 15, 2008
The Murray Alzheimer Research and Education program (MAREP), a major division of the RBJ Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) at the University of Waterloo, in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the Alzheimer Society of Ontario and the Dementia Advocacy and Support Network International, are working together to organize the fifth and final A Changing Melody Forum, a learning and sharing forum for persons with early-stage dementia and their partners in care, which will take place on Saturday, November 15th in Toronto. The theme of this year’s forum is “Joining Forces: Building Supportive Dementia Communities”. For more information or to register for this event, check out: A Changing Melody Forum

Phone: 416-658-8887 Toll Free:866-473-8887

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