An Evolving Challenge for Employees & Companies

By Linda Ziac

April 4, 2017

The Caregiver Resource Center



According to survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP entitled, ” Caregiving in the U.S. 2015”:


  •  26.5 million adults struggled to balance work and elder caregiving over the past 12 months


  •  42% of U.S. workers have provided care for an aging relative or friend in the past five years


  •  The majority of caregivers are female (60%), but 40 percent are male


  •  49% of the workforce expects to be providing eldercare in the coming five years


  •  60% of caregivers surveyed report being employed at some point in the past year while caregiving.  Among these caregivers, 56% worked full time



Employers, whether they believe it or not – are paying for eldercare.”   

(Source: SHRM - The Aging Workforce)



Corporate America is paying a high price as their employees struggle to care for their aging relatives as reflected in absenteeism, workday interruptions, eldercare crises, and work schedule adjustments.  According to a MetLife Survey, the aggregate cost of caregiving to U.S. businesses, is estimated to be more than $29 billion per year.


Despite the ever increasing numbers of elder caregivers in the workplace, these employees continue for the most part to struggle in silence.  This can be attributed to a many factors, such as caregivers don't self identify, caregiving is an emotionally laden and very personal experience, denial, workers feel it isn't a legitimate work concern, stigma, fear of job loss, or fear of demotion or being passed over for promotion.



Over the years Linda Ziac has consulted with a number of company and human resource departments; while providing employee assistance programs, drug free workplace programs, and corporate eldercare programs.


It’s common for Linda to receive a call from a company’s Human Resources Department who is struggling with an employee who is missing time from work, is unable to travel for business, or has turn downed a company promotion.


One example of a case that Linda worked on, involved an employee Sally who had a pattern of going to lunch at least once a week, and then calling her supervisor to say she needs to take the rest of the day off for personal reasons.



In this particular case Linda arranged to go into the company to speak with HR, and then to meet privately with Sally, a long time company employee.  Sally was very open with Linda, and shared that she is an only child helping care for her 92 year old mother, who has multiple medical issues.


Sally reported, “My mother sees at least one doctor a week. I took my mother to the doctor during my lunch break yesterday and the doctor was running late. This happens all the time. I can’t just leave my mother alone in the office, I have to stay.”


Sally shared that she is aware of the strain that her elder caregiving has had on her health, work and her marriage.  “I just don’t know what to do any more.”


When Linda asked Sally if she shared the reason for taking the afternoon off with her boss, Sally said “No. My boss doesn’t want to hear about my personal problems.”





This is an ever growing challenge for working elder caregivers and companies alike.


  •  Employee elder caregivers don’t self identify


  •  Elder caregivers say that caregiving is an emotionally laden and very personal experience


  •  Workers feel this is not a legitimate work life concern





According to survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP entitled, ” Caregiving in the U.S. 2015”:


  •  An estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months.


  •  61% of these caregivers are employed, including nearly half who work full-time.


  •  17% of these working caregivers are themselves 65 and older and are providing care for a spouse (29%) or a friend or neighbor (33%)



Elder caregiving affects more than just the employee and their family. More and more, we are seeing that the effects of elder caregiving, is spilling over into the workplace.


According to the MetLife Caregiving Cost Study - "Productivity Losses to U.S. Business", the hard cost from lost productivity of full time working elder caregivers, is at least $33.6 billion per year. If left unaddressed, the average full time elder caregiver, costs their employer $2,110 per year.


Eldercare impacts the company’s bottom line; as reflected in absenteeism, workday interruptions, elder crises, and work schedule adjustments.  One of those being most directly affected is the employee's supervisor.


Increasingly supervisors find themselves picking up the pieces in a variety of ways, from offering emotional support to employees, to adjusting their day to deal with work disruptions.





Research shows that the impact that eldercare responsibilities has on the workplace, falls into six major categories:


1.  Replacement costs for employees who leave due to their caregiving responsibilities.


2.  Increased use of sick leave and FMLA leaves to care for an aging loved one.


3.  Partial Absenteeism          


4.  “Presenteeism” - Costs due to work day interruptions; as an employee contacts doctors, home health aides and other paid caregivers, or conducts Internet searches.


5.  Lower productivity due to a high rate of stress related disorders among working caregivers.


6.  Costs associated with supervising employed caregivers.



According to the MetLife “Productivity Losses to U.S. Business Study - July 2010”, the average full time elder caregiver, costs their employer $2,110 per year.





Increasingly, supervisors find themselves picking up the pieces in a variety of ways, from offering emotional support to employees, to adjusting their day to deal with workday disruptions.


It is estimated that supervisors spend 55.7 million hours of company time per year dealing with employed caregivers, for a total cost to business of over $800 million annually.


(Source: MetLife Study, February 2010)





According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 52% of older Americans will eventually need some form of long-term care.


Currently, nearly 25 million working people – one out of every six workers – are providing caregiving services for a person age 65 and older.


(Source: U.S. Department of HHS, “Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Americans: Risks and Financing,” February 2016)



As our population ages, corporations and organizations will continue to experience the challenges posed by their aging workforce, as well as the number of employees struggling to balance their work responsibilities with elder caregiving.


In order for a company to be effective in addressing these challenges, they will need to assess their company’s unique needs, and design an eldercare program that addresses the specific needs of the company and its employees.  In this case – one size does not fit all.



In an 18-month study of the impact of workplace eldercare programs entitled, “Corporate Eldercare Programs: Their Impact, Effectiveness and the Implications for Employers”, findings showed:


  •  Presenteeism improved over time for users of certified geriatric care management programs.


  •  Users of certified GCM programs were less likely to report negative caregiving impacts on their work performance, verses resource and referral users. 


(Source: National Alliance for Caregiving and Center for Productive Aging, February 2008)



In a national study of dual earner sandwich generation couples, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, research has found that companies can realize a $3 to $13 return on every $1 invested in benefits programs. 





Since 1990, The Caregiver Resource Center has been working in partnership with businesses and human resource professionals, providing a spectrum of certified case management and advocacy services; for individuals, families and businesses. 


The Caregiver Resource Center’s mission is to assist companies and their employees:


    •  Understand the aging process  


    •  Facilitate open communication


    •  Access information & resources


    •  Obtain support, & guidance through the caregiving process





    •  Workplace Surveys


    •  Eldercare Program & Policy Development


    •  On-site Seminars for Supervisors 


    •  Educational Seminars for Employees in the workplace


    •  Printed Literature


    •  Information & Education


    •  On-site Consultation


    •  Development of an Action Plan


    •  Short Term Counseling Services


    •  Referrals


    •  Crisis Consultation


    •  Caregiver Support Groups


    •  On-site Caregiver Fairs


    •  Assistance Creating a Company Caregiver Library


    •  Case Management & Advocacy





    •  Reduce stress, related illnesses, and  medical care utilization


    •  Maximize employee productivity


    •  Sustain supervisors’ focus on operations


    •  Equip senior management with a cost effective management tool





All of The Caregiver Resource Center’s Eldercare Programs are individually designed to meet the unique needs of the company and its employees.



The Benefits for Employees


   •  Increased knowledge and skills


   •  Understanding of advance care plans


   •  Support and self-care


   •  Access to community resources


   •  Tools to help balance the demands of caregiving and work responsibilities



  The Benefits for Employers


   •  Cost effective tool to help reduce productivity losses


   •  Empowered employees with increased knowledge and skills


   •  Decreased employee distractions & employees who are more focused on their job


   •  Improved morale and organizational loyalty



For more information about our services call Linda Ziac at 203-861-9833 or visit us at



Photo from Microsoft


The information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.


Please consult your health care provider for an appointment, before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.




Linda Ziac is the owner and founder of The Caregiver Resource Center. The Caregiver Resource Center is a division of Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc. which Linda founded in October 1990. The Caregiver Resource Center provides a spectrum of concierge case management and advocacy services for seniors, people with special needs and families.


Linda’s professional career spans more than 40 years in the health and mental health field as a CT Licensed Professional Counselor, CT Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Board Certified Employee Assistance Professional, Board Certified Case Manager, and Board Certified Dementia Practitioner.  In addition, Ms. Ziac has 15 years of experience coordinating care for her own parents.


Linda assists seniors, people with special needs and their families; in planning for and implementing ways to allow for the greatest degree of health, safety, independence, and quality of life. Linda meets with individuals and family members to assess their needs, and develop a Care Team, while working with members of the Team to formulate a comprehensive Care Plan (a road map).


Once a plan is in place, Linda is available to serve as the point person to monitor and coordinate services, and revise the plan as needed. This role is similar to the conductor of an orchestra; ensuring that there is good communication, teamwork, and that everyone remains focused on the desired goal.

Geriatric Care Manager
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