I’m “lucky.” My parents died quickly in their late 50s. I am not part of the sandwich generation caring simultaneously for young children and aging parents. There are 64 million of you out there, caring for chronically ill, disabled or aging family members or friends.I cannot begin to imagine how my peers do that, and continue to manage their careers, their own health, and their vast responsibilities. It is a very exhausting situation to be in.
My cousin Jacqueline is a pediatric cardiologist and associate professor. Her mother, my aunt, recently died of brain cancer. It was a long and difficult battle. Jacqueline is a single mother. Her mother lived about 45 minutes away from the hospital where she works and lives. Every day, Jacqueline got her son off to school, went to work, traveled to see her mother, then returned home. The next day…rinse and repeat. Exhausting. All while remaining focused on the young patients in her care, arranging critical heart transplants, publishing, and speaking engagements. In the end, she converted her dining room into a bedroom, and both of her parents stayed with her until her mother’s death.
My fiance’s father died in December after a long battle with COPD and cancer. Fortunately for Scott, his company (a Canadian firm) allowed him the luxury of leave so that Scott was able to remain by his father’s bedside, and support his senior mother, for the final weeks of his father’s life. That precious time can never be retrieved.
Fortunately for both Jacqueline and for Scott, they had resources and supportive employers. Most of us don’t. And the cost to families is devastating. And the cost to Employers is devastating. American businesses lose as much as $34 billion each year due to employees caring for loved ones over 50. Employee caregivers cost to employers is approximately $2100 per year due to disruption, and 8-18% more in healthcare costs. There is a solution. A start-up based in Raleigh, NC called CareConscious offers an online Wellness Assessment & Support Plan for caregiving employees. It’s convenient and confidential, built using the industry standard TCARE protocol. Employees’ stress can be reduced, depression mitigated, and a better balance between workplace and caregiver responsibilities can be achieved.
This is a win-win for caregivers, employers, and even for health insurers. Preventing caregiving-related healthcare issues reduces costs for treatment. (Caregivers report chronic conditions including heart attack/heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis at nearly twice the rate of non-caregivers). This is not a coincidence.
CareConscious assesses and addresses critical caregiver health measures, provides customized plans, coping strategies and resources. Most of us faced with caring for an aging or terminally ill parent are new to it. We don’t know where to start or what to do. Emotions are turbulent. CareConscious is a gentle hand reaching out to caregivers, helping them navigate through one of the toughest times they will ever face. Employers have the ability to offer an employee benefit that will lighten that load for their employees, while protecting the bottom line. Insurers have the ability to approve an insurable service that will reduce their costs for caregiver health issues.
I have no dog in this fight. As I mentioned, my parents have been gone a long time, and their illnesses were relatively swift. I am not an investor or affiliated with CareConscious in any way. In fact, my world tends to focus more on the other side of the spectrum: children. As CEO of RightTime KiDS, I live, breathe and dream of things kid-related. But I also see so many of our parents dropping their children off for some fun at RightTime KiDS so they can tend to the needs of ill or aging parents. Their stress and angst is palpable. My heart goes out to them, and I want to find ways to help. When President (and Caregiver) of CareConscious, Dave Gold, told me what he was trying to achieve by creating this resource, he said, “No one should have to face such a difficult time without support and guidance. When I went through it, there was no guidance. We did not know where to begin and had to figure everything out for ourselves. It doesn’t make sense for us to keep what we learned to ourselves, when it can benefit everyone else going through something so difficult. It just makes sense.” And it does. And it makes cents, too. To employers. To insurers. To caregivers. To the beloved people in their care.
Please share this with your employers and benefits managers. Let them know this is a very worthwhile and needed employee benefit. For more information and costs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.