Caregiving is becoming a workplace issue. In 2012, over 15 million unpaid caregivers provide care for people with Alzheimer and other chronic diseases at an estimated value of $216 billion. With the increase in aging population (double by 2050), more caregiving support will be needed now and in the future. Approximately one-fourth of the US population (78 million people) are baby boomers (the generation born between 1946 and 1964, also called the sandwich generation). Globally, the average age of employees is 44 years and this number is rising. Boomers are more likely to show a longer and more varied work history and to stop working for pay in their late 60s. Furthermore, boomers can expect to provide personal care and financial assistance for their families for many years, first to their children, then simultaneously too young adult children and aging parents, older siblings, spouses or their spouses’ children.
Baby-boomers when caring for their parents, experience stressors such as interrupted sleep, lack of downtime for themselves and fatigue. The added strain of caregiving negatively impacts work and their personal social activities. They often experience physical health decline, a sense of aloneness and mental anguish due to the burden of care and an inability to pursue their life goals. All these stressors affect productivity in the workplace.
Employers have a unique and critical role not only to address workplace impacted stress issues in their wellness programs but to also assist employees who are experiencing these stressors by assessing employee stress coping and resilience skills and offering relevant wellness interventions.