Juggling Elder Care and Job Demands

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Workplace |

Nearly one in three Canadians aged 45-64 provides some informal care for at least one elderly family member. About 70% of these caregivers are employed, and many are members of the “sandwich generation”, with children still living at home or otherwise dependent upon them.

A rapidly aging population means that these numbers will increase. That leads to greater stress on families and put pressure on workplaces as well.

Workers caring for seniors may need to juggle between demands: work reduced hours, use time at work for eldercare-related calls, or use vacation days to care for their elders. They may also decline relocation, work-related travel, promotions, overtime, or new assignments. They may even opt for early retirement as a means of accommodating the many demands on them.

Even with these adaptations, family caregivers may experience “role overload” and suffer sleep deprivation and other stress-related ailments that affect their productivity.

“The most common needs for working caregivers are flexibility in work schedules, information about services and aging in general, support from co-workers and supervisors, and help in making decisions about care options and related issues,” according to a recent article featured in The MatureMarket.com.

Many employers are starting to recognize this pressure and looking for ways to support and retain their valued older workers.

Some larger companies have started offering eldercare support services, but for many others, this is new territory. If you as a company or an employee are just beginning this journey, here are a few actions you might initiate:


1. Raise your awareness of employees affected by eldercare concerns.
2. Assess current or potential costs of employee turnover, morale and productivity associated with the stresses of eldercare responsibilities.
3. Create a supportive environment for employees to talk about their eldercare concerns, and educate your managers to be sensitive to these situations.
4. Review your company’s benefit plan and other company policies to account for this new reality.
5. Collaborate with affected employees on implementing new initiatives.


1. Learn what benefits are presently available through your employer (e.g., EAP, emergency leave).
2. Gather information about community services and support available (e.g., respite, adult day programs, companion services).
3. Enlist family and others to help share eldercare responsibilities.
4. Draw on the experience of friends and colleagues in similar situations.
5. Assess your need for alternate work arrangements, such as flex-time, job sharing, or alternate responsibilities.
6. Prepare a strategy for discussing your concerns and possible solutions with your employer.

For an in-depth look at this issue, see a report prepared by the Family Caregiver Alliance:


Vol.3, No. 8

© ElderWise Inc. 2007
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