The report also examines the disparities among older adults who are working while also serving as family caregivers. Women are the majority of family caregivers, and they often experience more adverse employment consequences than men as a result of caregiving. Older employed women are more likely than men to cut back on hours, take a leave of absence or drop out of the labor force because of caregiving responsibilities.
Silver lining of pandemic
Workplace policies that support family caregivers include options such as flexible hours, telework options, paid time off and family medical leave, affordable backup care and referrals to community resources. Many employers implemented some of these policies temporarily in 2020 as more companies shifted to working from home to deter the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The question now is how these employers will apply their pandemic practices and experiences to their workforce once more companies are able to reopen their offices.
The telework options many workers received due to COVID-19 offered “a huge benefit for family caregivers to be available for their loved ones and have flexible work so they can take them to their appointments and other things they need,” Whitman said during the event. “I hope that [flexibility] continues and so five years from now this won’t be a blip where everybody knew that it could get done and then we forgot that it actually worked.”
“One advantage of COVID is it did shine that light on family caregiving,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, said during the event. “Probably many people who didn’t think they were family caregivers — they might be driving their parents or their grandparents to a doctor’s appointment, or doing grocery shopping — kind of suddenly, it came into focus that indeed they were part of the 38 million” who are family caregivers.
“It’s very important that the corporate or employer culture recognizes family caregivers and knows that people may be giving their all to the mission of the organization every day, but at the same time, they have other family responsibilities,” LeaMond said.