woman and elderly man Caregivingis a major undertaking,–those who provide care spend approximately29 hours a week on caregiving duties, with 70 percent reportingwork-related problems as a result. (Photo: iStock)

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According to a Gallup-Healthways survey, more than 20 percentof employees are providing care to a family member, and thatpresents them with challenges both at home and on the job.

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In fact, the report “Modern Caregiving Challenges Facing U.S.Employees,” from employer-sponsored family caregiving benefits firmTorchlight, points out that the struggles employees face tofulfill all their responsibilities arebroadening in scope and increasing in variety.

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Analyzing data gathered over nearly three years, the reportindicates that it's not just about eldercare or adult care.Employees also deal with kids with attention deficit hyperactivitydisorder, autism and anxiety; trying to balance caregiving and jobresponsibilities; and the frequent need to find caregivingassistance—especially on their own terms.

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Related: Employers can help caregiver employees throughbenefits

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In addition, Genworth's Beyond Dollars Study 2018 says that caregiversare getting younger, and are beset by stress and depression, aswell as the unexpected expenses involved in caregiving—even as thepeople they care for are also a younger group than care recipientsin years gone by.

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Caregiving is a major undertaking, with the Gallup-Healthwayssurvey relating that those employees who provide care spendapproximately 29 hours a week on caregiving duties, with 70 percentreporting work-related problems as a result. In addition, aCeridian report finds that employers are takinga substantial hit, too: the impact on U.S. businesses of employeecaregiving, it finds, is a loss of $38.2 billion annually.

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Here are just some of the issues employees are dealing with ascaregivers: 60 percent of elderly family members have some type ofmedical or cognitive issues, while more than 50 percent haveself-care issues, such as the ability to take medicationsappropriately or nourish, bathe or dress themselves. In addition,36 percent of caregivers are doing so long distance, having to dealwith travel, expense, childcare issues and other hassles inaddition to providing care.

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And it's not only health problems they're dealing with, sincethey're also beset by difficulties around finances, legal decisionsand safety. More than 40 percent of elderly family members havefinancial issues thanks to poor estate planning, bad advice onveteran assistance information, or misinformation around reversemortgages, Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security resources andrights, Torchlight says.

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Combine that with the nearly 20 percent of users who have eldercare legal issues to manage, such as hiring elder law attorneys,pursuing guardianship, or managing probate for their loved ones'estates, and you have a real struggle.

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“Just as companies have embraced child care services and paidleave to care for sick family members, increasing support for agingparents and reducing the strain of nontraditional caregiving needsof the multigeneration[al] workforce (many of whom are managers,directors and executives) are becoming higher priorities,” ChrisChan, lead innovation imagineer at Mercer Labs, is quotedsaying.

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Chan adds, “Ultimately, caregiving demands contribute to lostproductivity costs to U.S. businesses upwards of $38.2 billion peryear, and includes employee replacement, absenteeism, healthissues, workday distractions, supervisory time and reductions inhours. These are just a few of today's realities that are impactingtoday's workforce. Companies are increasingly turning toinnovations in family-friendly benefits design to providecaregiving support as they aim to be employers of choice.”

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What can you do to help your employeecaregivers? 

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.