The Aging Nation… What are we doing about it?

Business Case

We’ve all heard it before… Companies are losing over $30B annually in productivity from employees who are caring for an elderly loved one. Employees who care for a senior cost businesses 8% more in healthcare costs. But, are we listening? AARP and Met Life along with other organizations like the PEW Research Center collect this data, analyze it and report their findings. Is it falling on deaf ears? Maybe we don’t want to hear it? We didn’t want to hear about the real estate bubble bursting years ago. Well, it’s too late! 10,000 people have turned 65 every day since 2011. That’s almost 4 million people a year. We are 7 years into this silver tsunami. Here is the bad news. We have 12 more years of this growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau. “By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18.” The average lifetime lost income and benefits by female employees caring for a senior is well over $300,000- It’s scary when you think about this.

People are taking more time off from work these days to care for a senior loved one than ever before. A supervisor noticed a very promising, up and coming employee’s productivity started to slide. Then, they noticed the employee coming to work late and having to leave early. The supervisor spoke to human resources (HR) about it. The supervisor sat the employee down to discuss their performance and found out that what they considered was a substance abuse problem turned out to be that they were caring for their mother. Mom couldn’t get out of bed some mornings and they had to go over before work to assist her. The most common care task for a caregiver is… help with getting them in and out of bed.
• Mental health – Research shows that roughly 1 out of every 5 millennials suffer from depression
• Substance abuse – About 1 in 4 adults in the US has either a mental or substance abuse disorder
• Elder care – Almost half of all adults in their 40s and 50s (sandwich generation) have a parent age 65 and older and are financially supporting a grown child (18 or older)

How Employers Can Help?
The least sought after benefit employers are looking for today is eldercare employee benefits. With the staggering numbers we just read about, why is this the case? Well, for one, healthcare costs are sky rocketing, so the cost of medical insurance is climbing. Clearly, it’s the most expensive benefit that businesses pay for. Traditionally, it’s been medical, dental, vision and 401K. Brokers today are being creative and offering things like tuition reimbursement, wellness programs (including financial), prepaid legal, identity theft and pet insurance. In fact, larger employers offering identity theft protection rose 56 percent and pet insurance is up 80 percent. There is a company that offers eldercare employee benefits, The Senior Providers Network. They specialize in eldercare resources with their “virtual gerontologist” software that educates and guides caregivers to what they need and gives them options in connecting them to vetted professionals where the services are needed. Their return on investment (ROI) calculator has them at $0.10 per employee per month (PEPM). 10 cents sounds affordable to help employees get back to work faster under less stress. Employers are being proactive in offering flex time to help employees with their needs.

They can be even more proactive by offering Future File to their employees. Future File is ….. a comprehensive system that helps individuals and their loved ones think through their wishes and organize important information, policies and documents to assist with medical and other emergencies, aging issues and even passings. By walking through this system, your employees and their family members can think through critical issues related to the care of aging individuals in the family and organize relevant information to minimize disruptions to their personal and professional lives. Doing this simple planning can save families immense stress, as well as tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours. It is a cost-effective benefit that shows your employees that you care about the issues that affect their families- and has an added benefit of making your employees happier and more productive, for a low cost per employee (employer bulk discounts are available).

In the short time it took you to read this article, over 26 people turned 65 years old. Consider this trend- and the real impact upon your employees- as you offer benefits.