Health Care Services

Supporting The Hidden Caregiver

Who is a hidden caregiver? It’s one person with two full-time jobs. Typically hidden caregivers are professional women sandwiched between caring for their children and home, while also caring for older parents who need help. Statistics show that 42 percent of Generation X workers are in this position.

There is a growing need to help hidden caregivers. Being a caregiver is incredibly stressful and challenging, especially if the caregiver also experiences pressure at work. As the population ages, this will be an issue human resource directors must address to help employees continue to be productive and healthy.

The first step is to recognize hidden caregivers in the workplace. Typically, 44 percent of working caregivers do not disclose their status to employers, so it may be time to raise awareness of this situation. These caregivers are not only sandwiched between children and aging parents, 73percent of them are providing financial assistance to at least one child 18 years of age or older, and 75 percent also are responsible for financial assistance to aging parents.

Because they are juggling multiple, high-level priorities for home and work it means work/life boundaries become blurred. This causes a hidden impact in the workforce. Businesses lose an estimated $33.6 billion annually in lost productivity from full-time working caregivers. The average annual cost to employers per full-time working caregiver is $2,110.20 due to extended time away from the office, diverted focus, and the increased healthcare costs of caregivers.

What’s the solution? Employers need to develop ways to assist the working caregiver with options to bridge the gap in elder care. Addressing these hidden caregiving issues starts with planning before there is an urgent need. Perhaps programs can be created to offer additional Personal Time Off or Elder Care Emergency Time Off, Dependent Care Assistance Plans (Elder Care) or respite care. Healthcare resources who can help identify costs and programs include Geriatric Care Managers and Aging Life Care Professionals.

Home Health Services can also directly assist the hidden caregiver. Home health service can be offered in the home when the caregiver cannot be there. It is also a more reasonable long-term care solution when skilled nursing care may be too cost prohibitive. As the number of hidden caregivers rises, we must plan to meet this growing challenge through more workplace recognition and support.