Care Giving from the Office

Pam Swingley

Jul 10, 2010

Care Giving from the Office

In 2009, over seven in ten caregivers were employed at some time when care giving. Among them, two-thirds have gone in late, left early, or taken time off to deal with care giving issues. That means 66% of caregivers are struggling to find a balance between work and care. - AARP
“Can you take me to the doctor today?” Greta asks her daughter Anna patiently over the phone. Anna looks at the work piling up on her desk and sighs, “Yeah…I’ll just talk to my boss and take you during lunch.” This conversation between them occurs at least every other week. Recently, Anna has felt these “visits” to the doctor have become more frequent, and more time-consuming at work.

Although Greta is 80, her physical health is fine. Sometimes Anna feels as if it's her own health that needs attention. Every day is a new gray hair and pretty soon Anna will look like her mother.  Eileen seems perfect on the outside, but the frequent visits to the doctor are indications of her mental health slipping away. “This is simply the process of a long goodbye”, the doctor advises Anna. “Be prepared for a long process of care giving from your office.”

Working and Care Giving – The Constant Juggling Act

Care giving while at work is an issue that many baby boomers can relate to. According to AARP, the average caregiver is 50 years old, female, and struggling to balance work and caring responsibilities. Almost 60% of caregivers (both male and female), either work or have worked while providing care.

According to Robert O’Toole, president of Informed Decisions Inc., 41 % of caregivers report taking care of a loved one has provided a considerable impact on their work. AARP reports that for a fifth of caregivers, demands were so intense they had to take a leave of absence from work. The struggles of trying to balance work and care responsibilities make it easy to understand why 10% of care givers give up promotions or jobs due to stress.

The Cost of Lost Productivity is Astonishing

AARP reports 15% of employees in any given company are active care givers. The average time a caregiver spends on care related tasks is 20 hrs per week, similar to a part-time job. Let’s do some math:

  • If an employee is making $75,000 per year; they are making about $36.00 per hour.
  • If half of their work month goes to care giving duties, it is $2,880 per month in unproductive time ($36.00 x 80 hours = $2,880 per month).
  • This equals $34,560 per year/per employee ($2,880 x 12 = 34,560)
  • What happens if you have a company of 15 employees?
  • This equals = $518,400 per year of unproductive compensation ($34,560 x 15 employees = $518,400).

This situation is getting worse because nearly 64 percent or nearly two out of three caregivers in 2009 reported their time constraints were increasing. If we actually had to calculate the average cost of 4.4 million Americans (18 and older) providing care in this country it would cost $257 billion, according to AARP. 

Ways Employers can Help

Fortunately more employers are recognizing the cost of this burden and are offering elder care services for their employees. Some of these services include reduced rates for emergency at home care or long-term care. And some employers offer 10 days per year of emergency at-home care by trained professionals at a discounted rate.

Unfortunately, most of these solutions can be expensive for employers too. For businesses on a tight budget, flex-time can be arranged to fit care giving schedules and needs. This usually includes the negotiation of times for starting and finishing work. Or some choose to increase their hours during the day so they can take a day off. Working from home, shift-exchanging, or leave sharing between employees is becoming more popular as well. 

Where to Find a Helping Hand

If changes in your schedule are not enough to help ease stress from care giving, it’s time to seek other alternatives. Here are some we recommend:

RememberItNow!

RememberItNow! also offers custom reminders for scheduling events and has calendar sharing abilities. If you worry about your parent taking their medication or have trouble managing their health care, RememberItNow! can help. Designed from the patient's point-of-view, RememberItNow! makes it simple to set and send reminders to a cell phone. Users can also maintain a personal health record so medical information is easily found and create an interactive personal health team to coordinate care and easily share information. With features like a wellness journal, a contact database, and more, it makes long-distance care giving much easier. This service is available online and on a smart phone.
http://www.rememberitnow.com

Senior Care Consultants

Services like A Golden Hand help you prepare in advance for a health crisis with a senior. Senior savvy care consultants can help you preplan for your parent’s possible stroke, heart attack, cancer or anything else that may require assisted living care. Senior care consultants have access to resources needed in an emergency situation, including assisted living facilities, in-home care, meal delivery services, and pharmaceutical consultations.

Patient Navigators

If you have a parent very ill and you’re overwhelmed with their paperwork and appointments, seek a patient navigator. Patient navigators can take your mother or father to health appointments and act as the extra set of ears to listen and translate complicated medical advice. With a patient navigator, you can also make confident decisions about different medical treatments. Most navigators usually have a nursing degree, were former patients themselves, or caregivers.  

Google Calendar

Staying organized can sometimes be the most time-consuming task out of all of your care giving duties. It’s always hard to remember the little things, like picking up a prescription refill or paying a bill on time. Sometimes we need reminders for those events that seem to spring up last minute. With Google Calendar, you can share events with friends, families, or coworkers. You can create custom reminders to be sent to your email for anything. Color coding also makes scheduling a snap.

Caring.com

Finding free care giving resources can be a challenge. Caregiver.com provides a lot of clarity on money and legal matters, housing, senior health news, and more – all written by a team of experts. You can always be sure to find a plethora of reputable sources here.

Pamela Swingley, is CEO & Founder of RememberItNow! She designed RememberItNow! to help her father, and millions of others who take multiple medications, take control of their health. Prior to founding RememberItNow! Pam worked as a marketing executive for several B2B software companies including, ADP, Siebel Systems, ClearBenefits, Gate58 Marketing and OnLink Technologies. She is passionate about building software that leverages the latest technology, while being simple to use. Pam holds an MBA from St. Mary's College, and a BS in human development from the University of California, Davis.

About RememberItNow!

RememberItNow! makes eHealth easy. Designed from the patient's point-of-view, it is simple to schedule medication reminders, maintain a personal health record, and create a care community. Getting started is fast and free at www.RememberItNow.com. RememberItNow's patient-centric SaaS platform is also available to healthcare providers, employers, and long-term care facilities. RememberItNow! was founded in 2009. The company is privately held and headquartered in Orinda, CA.  

About the Author

Pam Swingley, is CEO & Founder of RememberItNow! She designed RememberItNow! to help her father, and millions of others who take multiple medications, take control of their health. Prior to founding RememberItNow! Pam worked as a marketing executive for several B2B software companies including, ADP, Siebel Systems, ClearBenefits, Gate58 Marketing and OnLink Technologies. She is passionate about building software that leverages the latest technology, while being simple to use. Pam holds an MBA from St. Mary's College, and a BS in human development from the University of California, Davis.