Workforce & Economics

Supporting elder care: A new
employment benefit

May 3, 2016
By Mike Hodin

In an aging population, more and more mid-career workers are facing a dilemma between committing fully to their jobs and caring for their parents. Let’s make it easier to do both.

Work-life balance has traditionally been understood as an issue that primarily affects parents: how do we successfully navigate the demands of child-rearing and balance them with often demanding careers?.

This challenge has not gone away. Instead, a new one has cropped up. For workers in their 40s, 50s and 60s, it wasn’t very long ago that few would have parents still alive. But with vast increases in longevity over the 20th century, it’s now very common for mid- and late-career workers to have to look after one or both parents—many of whom face serious medical issues that require extended attention. This could be Alzheimer’s, or a fall that leads to hospitalization, or even the challenge of managing a complex regimen of medications.

It's becoming ever more common for such workers to:

1. Arrive at work later and leave earlier;

2. Spend part of the work day on the phone with mom’s doctor or dad’s nursing home, or online dealing with some other aspect of elder care, rather than focusing on work;

3. Take time out of the work day to drive parents’ to doctors’ offices;

4. Decline promotions; and/or

5. Retire from the workforce earlier than they otherwise would have.

A solution

Create a new employer benefit to support workers who care for aging parents or other elders in their lives.

This could take the form of increased flex-time, paid time off, or a subsidy for hiring outside care.

Hear Mike Hodin share his idea on how the traditional learn-work-retire life path is becoming obsolete.

Author: Mike Hodin

About the author

Mike Hodin
Chief Executive Officer, Global Coalition on Aging

Michael W. Hodin, Ph.D. CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging, Managing Partner at High Lantern Group, and a fellow at Oxford University's Harris Manchester College. Hodin is also a featured blogger for The Huffington Post and at The Fiscal Times, under the Age and Reason Blog.