How to Support Employees Who are Caring for Their Aging Parents

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How to Support Employees Who are Caring for Their Aging Parents

You may not realize it, but many of your employees are in the Sandwich Generation.  The term Sandwich Generation is often used to describe individuals who are raising children and caring for their parents at the same time.  Most are also managing a career and juggling a variety of other commitments.  Sound familiar?  You might be one of them.  As an employer, there are many simple ways that you can support your employees who are in this situation so their work/life balance doesn’t suffer.

When your staff are pulled in different directions, what suffers?

  • Self-care and hobbies don’t even make it on the TO DO list
  • Health is compromised because of stress, poor eating habits, and lack of exercise
  • Mental health may decline leading to feelings of depression, guilt and isolation
  • It’s difficult to find the time to be a good spouse, parent, and child simultaneously
  • Productivity at work declines and attendance can be poor. 

About 47% of adults in their 40s and 50s who have a parent 65 or older and are also raising a child or supporting a grown child. In fact, one in seven of these adults are financially assisting both their parents and one or more children.

So, why are so many adult children caring for their parents? One reason is the growing number of people who are living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. 

  • The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 47 million and is projected to increase to 75 million by 2030.
  • The number of cases of dementia are estimated to almost triple by 2050.
  • Every 60 seconds a person is diagnosed with dementia
  • Only a small percentage of people with dementia are cared for in long term care communities.  Most are cared for at home by family. 
  • Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia have a 3-20 year progression

Employees Caring for an Aging Parent Need Your Support

Your staff who are caring for an aging parent may be concerned about:

  • Safety of loved one, such as being able to leave someone home alone unattended or risks associated with driving and getting lost
  • Fire, floods, or other accidents in the house
  • Financial predators and mismanagement of money
  • Daily activities such as housekeeping, grocery shopping/meal preparation, transportation to medical appointments

Identify Community Resources that can Support Your Staff

First, it’s important to reduce any stigma associated with dementia.  Don’t make people feel they need to hide the fact that they are helping a loved one.  Provide free information sessions in the workplace to educate employees about issues related to caring for a parent.

Host a Dementia Friends Session

Dementia Friends is a global movement that is changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia.  It was developed by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom and is now spreading throughout the US and other countries.  The Dementia Friends is made up of volunteers who provide free one-hour education sessions to anyone interested in learning more about dementia.

Partner with Experts

When you are a caregiver and you are pulled in many different directions.  Having a list of local resources can save time and frustration.  Pull together a list of names, numbers, and addresses for organizations and individuals such as:

  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Geriatricians
  • Elder care lawyers
  • Financial Planners and bill payers
  • Adult Day programs
  • Companions
  • Support groups
  • Volunteer programs
  • Students
  • Grocery delivery
  • Religious organizations
  • Fire and police departments
  • Emergency response and tracking devices
  • Care Coordinator
  • Home modification professionals

Encourage Self Care

When we make time to take breaks and reduce stress, we are more productive in the long run.  Consider creating a culture that encourages self-care by 

  • Allowing for a flexible schedule when needed
  • Agreeing to work at home when possible
  • Providing a variety of free wellness and nutrition classes
  • Creating a meditation space that staff can use on breaks
  • Giving discounts to exercise facilities or creating workout space at your organization
  • Providing child care benefits
  • Providing senior care benefits

A small investment to support your staff will increase productivity and decrease absenteeism.    And you don’t need to be an expert on dementia to help.  If you partner with the right people and organizations, you can help to reduce the concerns that impact daily work/life balance and ease the burden for those in the Sandwich Generation. 

By | 2019-04-24T13:06:42+00:00 April 24th, 2019|aging, alzheimers, caring, dementia, dementia. alzheimers|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Brush
Jennifer A. Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP has been working for over 20 years to change the face of dementia care in hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes and home care. Prior to establishing her own practice, Jennifer served for many years as the Executive Director of IDEAS Institute, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of older adults through the conduct of applied research. She is an international speaker and recognized speech-language pathologist known for her work in the areas of memory, swallowing, and environmental interventions for people with dementia. She has served as the Principal Investigator on applied research grants that have examined issues pertaining to dementia, hearing impairment, dining, dysphagia, and the long-term care environment. Her research and consulting in the area of environmental modifications has resulted in improved functioning for people with dementia. Jennifer offers interactive and educational presentations and coaching that help clients bridge the gap between current research findings and the care needs of people with dementia. Jennifer Brush is the co-author of four books: Creative Connections in Dementia Care™; I Care; Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT) and A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval. She is the author of Meal Time Matters and Meal Time Matters at Home, training programs that build nursing assistants' and home caregivers' skills related to dining, swallowing disorders, and safe feeding assistance. Jennifer has authored over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals, served as guest editor of the journals Seminars in Speech and Language and Perspectives in Gerontology, volunteered as Chair of Professional Development in Gerontology for the American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group, and was an editorial reviewer for Jennifer is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Jennifer is honored to be appointed by the Executive Director of AMI to serve as an inaugural member of the Advisory Group for Montessori for Aging and Dementia. This group is responsible for writing the AMI standards for Montessori dementia programs. Jennifer presented her research in the area of dementia at the first international conference for Montessori environments for dementia in Sydney, Australia in 2014, and spoke at the annual AMI meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2015. She will return to Sydney in November, 2015 to speak about creating supportive environments for the aging.
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