Employees and Long Term Care

There’s a parable about a person who is crying because they have suffered a large personal loss (we’ll call them The Seeker). Unable to grow beyond their sad feelings, they seek the advice of a wise elder. The wise elder instructs The Seeker to knock on the door of every house in the village, explain the loss, and ask the person who answers the door if they understand. You can guess what happens. Every person behind every door has their own story of a profound loss they have experienced. The Seeker realizes that he is hardly alone in his experience.
This experience isn’t unlike long term care. Knock on every door, and ask about extended care, and the person likely knows, is the child of, or is married to someone who needs or has needed long term care.
The need for long term care visits almost every home in one way or another. The same can be said for workplaces. After all, employees go home at the end of each weekday!
Those managers who may think their workers aren’t impacted by long term care would do well to ‘knock on the doors’ and perhaps ask employees if they are helping family members or loved ones with caregiving. The answers may be eye-opening.
The middle-aged key person with bags under her eyes may be feeling the strain of caregiving for a parent who lives an hour away. The long-time manager who seems uncharacteristically distracted may be the primary caregiver for his wife suffering from dementia.
These employees are often the backbone of a company. When they aren’t optimally performing, calling in sick, or even requesting to go to part-time hours (all common outcomes of caregiving responsibilities), it not only hurts them, it hurts their fellow workers and the company.
However, middle-aged children or spouses of those needing care aren’t the only employees impacted. Twenty and thirty-somethings sometimes step up to help when an elderly aunt, uncle or grandparent needs extended care.
How will employers minimize the damage that long term care can cause? Caregiving talks by geriatric care managers, counseling services and the like can help tremendously. So can critical illness plans, life insurance with accelerated death benefits, discount health cards that make home care and other types of care more affordable. However, the ultimate planning tool to help families when long term care is needed is a high-quality long term care insurance policy put in place before the need for care arises.
Employers who care about this topic are encouraged to adopt these no-cost strategies:
Provide employees information on community long term care solutions and resources so that they know what to do in a crisis. An independent geriatric care manager and representatives from home care agencies and assisted living facilities can provide materials, speak at events, and meet with interested employees.
Message to employees the importance of looking into their own personal long term care insurance policy to help their own family should long term care ever be needed. A long term care specialist can provide important materials, conduct workshops, and meet with employees to provide customized information.