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Why taking care of our seniors is good for business

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Why taking care of our seniors is good for business


The world’s population of elderly people, those age 70 and older, will sharply increase as baby boomers enter this age bracket. How we care for our aged population is not something many of us think about on a daily basis.

Knowing the baby boomer generation comprises 20% of the U.S. population, why aren’t more businesses talking about caregiving? These are the same people our society has counted on for the past 50 years to carry the U.S. economy through highs and lows.

In recent years, studies showed caregiving is overwhelmingly considered to be a mentally and physically taxing activity. One in three adults in the U.S. provides care to other adults as an informal caregiver. Similarly, to families who have children, others in your workforce may be caring for their elder relatives or even friends.

The economic impact of family caregiving is a highly studied topic, as it is a huge aspect of people’s lives. The Committee on Family Caregiving for Older Adults published a report on the severity of this impact finding the following, “caregivers of older adults can suffer significant financial consequences with respect to direct out-of-pocket costs and long-term economic and retirement security. Spouses who are caregivers especially are at risk.” This makes it difficult for caregivers to keep a job in their field and forces them to take lower paying positions with more flexibility due to the need to take time off for caregiving. As one can imagine, this filters through the entire ecosystem: businesses look for skilled labor, communities economically suffer, and families barely break even. It is a cyclical effect, but it doesn’t have to operate this way.

You might ask yourself, why as a business owner or community member should this matter to me?

  1. Impact on culture: Being understanding, flexible and creating a safe space is essential. Knowing caregiving can be among the most challenging of family responsibilities, having a leadership team that sees its employees where they are at, a level of respect is received and given. It also creates a safe space for the employee to work and thrive while dealing with the physically and emotionally draining parts of caregiving.
  2. Contributions seniors make to the community: According to the Community Living Campaign, “senior citizens are known for exhibiting high levels of proactive social values, meaning they are more engaged in volunteerism, helping where they are able, caring for nature and the environment, endorsing equality and seeking to understand those different from themselves.” These are attributes companies and businesses talk all about when “creating a healthy culture,” but they are not looking to those who are living it day in and out.
  3. Current and projected impact to businesses: Creating an inclusive “caregiver” policy will have a long-lasting impact on business growth through the actions of those currently needing this help. By already having measures in place within your workplace handbook, bylaws or rules and regulations, you are creating space for your employees to know right away the organization and leadership team are empathetic and understanding to the human aspects of our lives. This will create a family-friendly workplace culture and, in turn, build a team that is happy and willing to step up and help when someone is in need.

It also is a good to remember, it is not a hindrance to hire someone who already is a caregiver. You can hire them knowing they have a level of empathy, perspective and organizational skills that other potential candidates may not. They also have a high level of emotional intelligence. They are able to see the good in others, be patient and know how to keep their lives together while simultaneously keeping the life of someone else whom they care for together. Who is to say they won’t apply these same instincts to their job at your company or organization?

As the hunt for skilled labor and workers in this country forges on, I implore you to consider these folks when they apply. Sure, things come up, but they come up for everyone, and we are all human, so refocus what you see as “good for business,” and think about the grace that was or was not given to you when you have been in the same position.

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