HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Elder Care Benefits

The New York Times ran an informative piece on the increasing number of employees (mostly women) who are struggling to keep their jobs and care for aging relatives.  The article notes the fact that most employers do not have policies that provide leave or other services to help an employee care for elderly family members and that childcare policies are not a good fit for these employees.  It states,

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, which represents more than 200,000 human resource and other corporate officials, 39 percent of its members said in 2003 that elder care benefits were "too costly to be feasible." Only 1 percent of their companies subsidized any elder care benefits last year. And only 3 percent offered the emergency backup care — subsidized or otherwise — that experts say saves money by keeping workers at work. . . .

"These benefits fall under the same umbrella but are fundamentally different," Mr. Gatti said. "Child care programs are relatively straight-forward and easy to administer compared to elder care, which is a maze with lots of sharp corners and dark secluded places."

The distinctions between child care and elder care have become apparent as the first of the 77 million baby boomers turn 60 and their parents live past 85, joining the fastest-growing segment of the population.

The most obvious is that children's schedules are predictable — a school holiday next Monday — while elderly parents' needs — a trip to the emergency room — are crisis-driven. Also, children are raised at home; an elderly parent often lives far away.

Guiding the decisions of an elderly parent also requires mastery of arcane legal, financial and medical matters.

It is an interesting piece and provides insight into an issue that will require action on someone's part to make it possible for employees to continue working while dealing with a host of issues that arise when family members require greater attention as they age.  [bm]

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