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Marketing Your Services Means Covering All the Bases

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Posted: January 12, 2005

Professional Caregiving

Partnering with the Larger Employers in Your Area

How many of you can name the top five employers in your area? If you can?t, it?s time to get a listing from your city and begin to do some research. Caregiver stats that are quite consistent throughout the country show that nearly 30%, if not more in some communities, of working adults have some caregiving responsibility for an older family member, above and beyond what they are doing for their own immediate families and children. Another way of looking at this, 60% of all caregivers work -- and which ever way you slice the pie -- there is an enormous opportunity for partnerships.

Many of you may know of the pioneering companies (IBM and StrideRite come to mind) and others who early on thought about the impact of aging parent issues on their work force and ultimately the bottom line. These companies brought in services to support their workers who were members of the ?sandwich generation,? workers pressed between child care, parent care and career demands.

The services these and other companies developed provided information, referral and support services, as well as some on-site care services like adult day care, often in addition to the child care already in operation.

What we have learned from research on aging is that the more supports our businesses and industry offer their workers, the better outcome for the business, the worker and the person being cared for.

How so, you ask?

Let?s look at more statistics that have come out more recently from NCFA and MetLife studies on caregivers in the workplace, and others.

Workers missing work due to eldercare issues are primarily in their 40?s and 50?s and some in their 60?s. These are often the higher paid, longer-term, higher-benefit employees who, if their productivity is diminished due to the distraction of their eldercare responsibilities, cost the business more than the younger worker with less tenure, salary and benefits. The estimated cost of this lost productivity is more than $34 billion each year.

I don?t know of a business-minded person who would not understand how the overstressed working caregiver will ultimately affect business viability. Many workers cut back their work hours as their caregiving demands increase. Point one made.

The worker who is juggling pressure to bring home a paycheck with additional obligations to care for a loved older family member, will sooner than later begin experiencing the drain and strain of burning the candle at both ends. If the worker has no support, they have less recourse and in many cases end up cutting back on their work day as care demands increase, or they simply begin working less efficiently due to the stress and strain they feel. They now are in a greater money pinch, are still burning the candle at both ends, and too often experience their own health related problems stemming from stress.

No one can sustain this level of care indefinitely, and the worker whose employer provides on-site information and referral for aging services, on-site support groups, and flex time for care-related demands will have an employee who continues to produce their ?product? while resting assured that their parent is being supervised and cared for while they are at work. Point two made.

Finally, let?s look at the older adult who has lost some of their independence as a result of a physical, cognitive or emotional setback. They are already in crisis as their ability to care for themselves has diminished and they now need the attention and care from their adult children, who are already struggling to make ends meet and help their kids through high school and succeed with their dream of college. Parents, while grateful, do not relish the idea of being a burden to their children, even though they may be relieved they have family to care for them.

Too often, these older family members are provided ?tele-oversight,? phone contact and sometimes a quick check in before or after their middle-aged children?s full day of work. The parent is at home, at the mercy of their solitude, and over time, the loneliness and sadness from their physical as well as emotional condition brings them closer and closer to the slippery slope of depression, withdrawal, and ultimately despair. Older adults, especially those who have experienced stroke, dementia, depression and other conditions, have greater needs to be with others during the long days while their family members are at work.

Employers who recognize that the more support they provide their workers for caregiving issues, the better business they will do. They are the wise and enlightened employers who will find greater success as caregiving needs grow. Point three made.

Your local employers may not have the statistics at hand. You do. And if you don?t have them, you can find them on this website, as well as NFCA and the AOA sites, among others. Its your choice, you can help your community by sharing this information with your local employers to educate them, improve the work conditions of their employees, and ultimately grow your own business or service as a result of the good community work you are doing. I hope you make this choice.


Sylvia Nissenboim is a licensed clinical social worker and who has been working in the field of adult day services in the St. Louis area. She is the director of four adult care and enrichment centers for the American Red Cross and also operates a personal and professional coaching firm, LifeWork Transitions, specializing in caregiving concerns, adult day care management and other aging services, such as virtual coaching and family care giving support groups. She co-authored The Positive Interactions Program, is a national speaker, and has served as president of the Missouri Adult Day Care Association and as a member of the Missouri Governor's Advisory Council on Aging..

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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