Paid leave for caregivers of adults with dementia is charting new territory in the workplace
- Although paid family and medical leave benefits help caregivers of family members with Alzheimer's or dementia, less than half of adult caregivers reported accessing the benefit in a new study by UsAgainstAlzheimer's, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating the diseases. The organization commissioned national research firm Public Opinion Strategies to conduct an online survey of working caregivers of someone with Alzheimer's or another category of dementia.
- The study showed also that among the 10 million millennial caregivers in the U.S., 15% looks after someone with Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. Other key findings in the study show that just slightly more than 50% of the working adult caregivers whose employers provide paid medical and family leave said they use it.
- Six in 10 caregivers reported having money-related problems from being unable to work or having to curtail the number of hours they can work while a loved one was sick. More than a quarter of working caregivers and 40% of working millennial caregivers said that either they or someone in their home has had to borrow money or pile up debt while caring for a loved one.
Caregiving of family members with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia might be an uncharted area that employers will want to note and step in with support.
Flexible work schedules are a top benefit among caregivers, according to an Unum study released in June. The vast majority of respondents (90%) in this study also said an employer's leave policies serve as a key decision-making factor in whether to leave or stay on a job. Paid leave has proven to be a benefit that attracts candidates and retains talent, giving employers that offer it an edge in recruiting and hiring in an employee-driven labor market. In trying to lower their turnover rates, major retailers are now offering paid leave to their hourly workers.
Millennials make up the bulk of the workforce and are now the age group known as the "sandwich generation," which has inherited the responsibility of caring for both children and aging parents. This dual role is demanding of workers' time, energy and financial and emotional wellbeing. Paid leave policies can help free them of some of the burdens associated with caregiving.
Of course, offering long lists of in-demand benefits isn't valuable to workers if they don't know they exist or how to access them. In more than one study, employees reported not knowing that their workplaces provide certain benefits. Employers must communicate benefits to ensure that all workers who need them can access them.