Role reversal: How does caring for your parents impact your job?

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If you've got a full-time job, sometimes things can get in the way that mean you need some time off work. Maybe you get a nasty bug or a long-term health condition means you need sickness pay. Or perhaps you've found out you're expecting a baby - so you get maternity/paternity leave to welcome your new arrival. Overall, caring for yourself and children seems to be well accommodated within the workplace. However, what happens when you need to look after a parent or elderly relative?

Eldercare, an assistive technology and care provider, released a research paper to examine the impact on people requiring care and how those that are responsible for their care tackle employment responsibilities.

An ageing population

Accounting for 18% of the population, there are over 10.5 million people aged 65+ living in the UK. 1.4 million are more than 85-years-old, with these figures constantly rising.

As we get older, the increasing risk of developing chronic illnesses means we may require care and help from others. For example, in the UK about 850,000 people suffer from dementia. A nasty fall can even be enough to cause a sudden loss of mobility, which means elderly people would need help with attending appointments, going food shopping, cooking and cleaning. Even washing or getting dressed can be difficult on their own.

Invisible carers

As elderly people start needing care, their adult children are adopting these important caring responsibilities. In fact, 6,000 people take on caring responsibilities everyday – that’s over 2 million new carers each year. And unfortunately, half of all British carers must balance their caring duties alongside their day jobs. In fact, we previously reported that around 1 in 9 employed UK workers have caring responsibilities.

Taking time off work for parenting duties, like picking up children from school or looking after them when they’re sick, is generally well accommodated and embraced in the workplace. However, there appears to be a lack of acknowledgement for those nursing ageing relatives. Often, employers seem unaware of how these people struggle to balance work and caring for loved ones.

Although the NHS caters for medical needs, social care is a separate issue. Most care services operate in the day, but they are unlikely to provide care during the night-time. Then, it’s up to family and friends to get involved. So, what's the impact for these 'invisible carers?'

Who cares?

Eldercare have conducted a new survey of over 2,000 workers who care for their older relatives. Although carers are mostly spread across all ages, the most prevalent is 45 to 54-year-olds. Carers in this group are part of the ‘Sandwich Generation,’ because they may have responsibilities for their children (sometimes grandchildren) as well as their parents.

According to the survey, common tasks include arranging appointments, managing medicines and making calls for their relatives. 71% also visit them in person.

Impact of elderly care on the UK workforce

Eldercare's survey highlighted some key insights into the impact of elderly care and employment:

  • 46% of working carers have taken a call from a distressed family member at work.
  • 3 in 5 carers say that a relative had an incident requiring medical attention (e.g. a fall) whilst they were at work.
  • Most use holiday or annual leave to visit a sick relative.
  • 21% have previously left work at short notice to provide urgent care.

The working carers that were surveyed agreed that their caring duties significantly and negatively impact their lives. 45% regularly feel tired, 44% chronically stressed, and 20% said their own health is suffering as a result.

Some people consider the impact to be so high, that they'd reconsider their employment options. 26% contemplate reducing their working hours, with 15% wanting to quit their job altogether. This means that employers are equally sensing the adverse effects of elderly care. All in all, it's causing higher staff turnover, lower productivity, and increased employee absence or sickness.

A caring revolution

As the population of over 65s is only set to grow – they’ll be a projected 16 million by 2034 – we’re in need of a caring revolution. Elderly care should be part of an employee's benefits package. This should include advice to help workers get the right support and decent quality care that covers all hours. Overall, there should be ways to protect the elderly that also let workers get on with their jobs with peace-of-mind that their relatives are well cared for.

As we previously blogged about - technology is the future of elderly care. Research carried out by Carers UK showed an overwhelming majority (72%) of carers who utilise technology said it gave them 'greater peace-of-mind.'

Eldercare - always there

Eldercare is an organisation providing 24/7 assistive technology services as well as traditional homecare for the elderly, with an aim of helping people make the rest of their lives the best of their lives. Their mission is to make living independently safer and easier for vulnerable people of all ages through delivering technology-enabled care. Above all, they have a vision to help people fulfil their dream of staying in their own home for as long as possible.

After losing mobility in old age, people might think a care-home is the only option, but with Eldercare’s services people can remain living confidently and comfortably at home. Also, Eldercare's 24/7 monitoring services reassure carers of their relative's safety whilst they're busy at work. As not everyone’s needs and circumstances are the same, the Eldercare team develop bespoke solutions to ensure the right outcomes for individuals and their families - nothing is too much trouble for their friendly team.

What does Eldercare do?

Like Evergreen Life, Eldercare is at the forefront of 'person-centred care.' Their most popular services include:

  • Pendant Alarms: There may be times when we need assistance and fast. Wouldn’t it be great if we could raise help without worrying that we're ‘bothering people?’ With Eldercare's pendant alarm service, you can. Every day of the year, 24/7, Eldercare are ready and waiting to step into action and deal with things; getting you the help you need when you need it most.
  • James, 79, from Glasgow, says: "The Eldercare staff are all so nice and they even rang me on my birthday, which was a lovely surprise. I know that in an emergency, they are always there."
  • Assistive Technology: Sometimes things catch us out unexpectedly. Environmental sensors that can detect smoke, a flood, natural gas, carbon monoxide or extremes in temperature in your home or a Falls Detector can automatically send alerts that tell Eldercare that something is wrong and they can get the help that you need and fast. This is called assistive technology. On top of this, alerts can also warn the carer before automatically ‘rolling over’ to alert the Eldercare Control Centre operators should the carer not respond to the alert, forming a truly robust approach to care.
  • Supporting Carers: Obviously, it's worrying if something happens to you unexpectedly and you can't care for the people who depend on you. If you're registered to Eldercare's Carer's Card service, they can ensure your loved ones get the help and support they need.

To find out more about Eldercare, who they are and what they do, visit their website.

Evergreen Life – share and care

Got an elderly relative that you provide care for? With Evergreen Life, you can ease the pressure and save yourself time or worry with our Trusted Access feature. You can view your family’s medical and health records in the palm of your hands, meaning you can easily access the right information at the right time. This can improve healthcare decision making. Above all, it gives you and others control over your health information.

Take control today. Download the Evergreen Life app.

Written by
Evergreen Life

Article updated:
January 25, 2018
Reviewed by:
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