Are Your Employees Caring for Aging Parents?


As an employer, you can support your employees who are caring for aging parents in a number of ways. According to Statistics Canada, in 2018, one in four Canadians were caring for an elderly parent or friend.  Clearly with the growing older population, that number will continue to rise.  For employees caring for older parents, crisis calls are not uncommon during work hours. They come from a hospital, a seniors’ residence, or from a personal alarm. 

Senior Care Often Involves a Crisis

In fact, it is usually a crisis which prompts the move of a senior parent into a long-term care facility. Suddenly that employee has to navigate the senior residence system, resources, and programs, all the while trying to prepare a parent emotionally and physically to move. This is not easy to do for a full-time employee caregiver.

So How can Employers help?

One of the major challenges for employees who are responsible for elders is navigating the resources, the housing options, the levels of services and care provided in each. There are public and private systems to understand.  Often there are wait-lists for residences, particularly for ones dedicated to dementia and Alzheimer patients. Some families opt instead for homecare to keep parents home as long as possible.

Employers can provide their staff with information about what their health benefits will cover regarding elder care resources, and even access to legal and financial professionals to help with living wills, personal directives, and power of attorney. There are health-care navigation services, and employers can choose to cover a portion of an employee’s access to personal support worker hours. 

Flexibility is Key

Health Risk Services creates employee health-care spending accounts that will cover home care nursing and other expenses for elderly parents. Another option is to give employees caring for parents flexible hours and a leave policy that would cover paid time off for a family member who does not live in the same household.

Another major issue for employees with elderly parents is they often do not live in the same city. This means employees will need to take time off to travel to a different city if a parent is in crisis and needs to be moved to a different facility. Employers can provide employees with a number of personal days to give them the ability to deal with their parents’ needs.

Employers recognize that employees experience stress from the workplace, and stress in their personal lives. Helping employees reduce their stress is a good investment for employers, and that includes reducing the stress they experience providing care for senior parents. Offering education, compassion, and flexibility with benefits, hours and personal days can go a long way to reduce the stress of caregiver employees.

If you would like to understand how your benefits plans can provide better support for your employees, call us at Health Risk Services.