Leading Corporations Collaborate to Define Employee Caregiver Experience

  • On September 29, 2014 ·

Growing aging population and increase in age-related chronic conditions require an understanding and corporate response to support employee caregivers

Washington, D.C. (September 29, 2014) – Employers from more than 75 corporations, academic institutions, non-profits and government joined together today to launch a new tool to help employers support caregivers while gaining a competitive advantage in the race to attract and retain the best talent.  At the event hosted at AARP’s Washington, DC headquarters, ReACT (Respect A Caregiver’s Time), a coalition of leading employers, revealed the “Caregiver Experience: A Snapshot of the Caregiver Journey” and led a discussion about the leadership role of companies as caregiving needs for loved ones with age-related, chronic conditions rises sharply over the next few decades. The event included executives from AARP, Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Pfizer Inc., Kimberly Clark, and Home Instead Senior Care.

“Caregiving involves a complex set of responsibilities, requiring many hours of coordinating care and transportation, managing medications, attending doctor appointments and a variety of physically challenging tasks,” said Gary Romano, MD, a practicing neurologist and head of Alzheimer’s drug development at Janssen Research & Development, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company. “Along this journey, support and understanding from employers is imperative to ensure that caregivers are able to remain productive in the workforce.”

The Caregiver Experience: A Snapshot of the Caregiver Journey” is a graphic depiction of a caregiver’s day. It combines insights, experience and market research from ReACT’s member organizations and visually shows the multitude of tasks, responsibilities, emotions and skills required for the dual role of caregiver and employee. The graphic is a tool to engage employers about the needs of employee caregivers and stimulate new approaches to better support caregivers.

“AARP is proud to help family caregivers struggling to meet their personal and professional responsibilities,” said Debra Whitman, AARP executive vice president for policy, strategy and international affairs.  “The insights provided through ReACT’s ‘Caregiver Experience’ will help employers large and small better understand the obligations of caregiving and the opportunities for helping employees perform at their highest levels.

It is estimated that of the 44 million unpaid elder caregivers in the U.S., 75 percent are employed. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, nearly 70 percent of working caregivers must make workplace accommodations including modifying hours, taking a leave of absence, choosing early retirement or turning down a promotion.

“I had to leave my job in my prime – a career I’d spent decades building.  Twenty years later nothing has changed.  No better options and caregivers are getting sick too. Workers and employers are both losing out.” said Meryl Comer, President of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative. She is author of the newly released Slow Dancing with a Stranger, an unvarnished account that chronicles her career disrupting, caregiving experience. Comer also announced the launch of a new virtual Caregiver Health-eBrain Study, to assess the cognitive toll of caregiving, under the aegis of the non-profit, 21stCentury BrainTrust™ in partnership with Lumosity and AnthroTronix Brain Vital.

The population is rapidly aging, and the need for care is becoming more prevalent.  According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, the total number of older people with needs for care will nearly triple from over 100 million to nearly 300 million between 2010 and 2050, due largely to the explosion of Alzheimer’s disease.  In fact, research from AARP shows that by 2030, there will be just four potential caregivers for every person 80 and older, a sharp decrease from the seven-to-one ratio in 2010.

“ReACT represents a cross-sector employer effort to raise awareness of and spur action to meet the challenges millions face every day while taking care of an older loved one,” said Drew Holzapfel, convener of ReACT. “It’s exciting to see how leading corporations are driving the business community forward and showcasing the value of employee caregiver’s dual roles at home and in the office.”

To view the full graphic click here.

ReACT would like to thank Janssen Research & Development, LLC for their financial support of the “Caregiver Experience: A Snapshot of the Caregiver Journey”.

About ReACT

ReACT is an employer-focused coalition dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by employee caregivers and reducing the impact on the companies that employ them. ReACT represents nearly 1 million employees through its membership of more than 40 companies and non-profit organizations. ReACT seeks to create a supportive business environment where the challenges faced by caregivers juggling the demands of both work and caregiving for an adult with a chronic age-related disease are understood and recognized by employers so that employees can better meet their personal and professional responsibilities.  Please visit www.respectcaregivers.org for more information.