In the U.S. today, one in six employees is a caregiver for a relative or friend, and spends on average more than 20 hours a week providing some kind of care.
Caregiving can range from what some might call helping out — assisting a relative or friend with shopping, picking up medications, scheduling doctors’ appointments or providing transportation — to fundamental activities that support daily life such as helping with bathing, dressing and eating. In some cases, caregivers learn and are needed to provide skilled medical services including wound care, administering injections and inserting feeding tubes.
It’s safe to say that the number of employees acting as family caregivers will only grow. In the U.S., people are living longer, and as life expectancy grows, so too does the incidence of chronic illness and disability. Aging individuals need more care, and as these needs outstrip society’s ability and willingness to provide and pay for that care within the traditional healthcare system, more caregiving responsibilities fall to family members. Likewise, as people remain in the workforce longer, the likelihood increases that they will find themselves balancing caregiving and work at some point in their careers. No profession, company or industry is immune; caregiving is a universal reality.
Beyond the growing number of caregivers, the face of caregiving in the workplace is also changing, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. Due to demographic and societal shifts, millennials currently make up a full 25% of caregivers, and many of
them may be called upon to play that role for a substantial portion of their work life, given greater longevity among aging and chronically ill family members. Women are typically thought of as the caregivers in society, but men now constitute 40% of family