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Elder Care: A Growing Concern

By Beverly D. Roman

More than 14 million US workers are caring for aging family members. Forty-four percent of these individuals are also parents of children under 21 years of age. The Institute of Medicine stated that the average US woman would spend more time caring for elderly parents and in-laws than raising her own children.

In 2003 DuPont did an in-house survey of 3,700 of the company's 54,000 U.S. employees. The results follow:

1. 49 percent were either providing care for an elder, or expected to do so within three to four years

2. 49 percent reported spending six hours a week or more on care

3. 85 percent reported some to great difficulty finding quality affordable care

4. 70 plus percent cited difficulty finding related assistance such as companions, adult-day-care, transportation, home health and homemaker services.

Elder care responsibilities for those who are relocating are more stressful for working families than childcare. They are also costly! Forty percent of caregivers state they had to take time off without pay for an average of 17 days of work missed per year due to caring for a disabled elder. The stress and expense felt by families is compounded by the expense and inconvenience realized by their employers through distractions, absenteeism and inefficiency.


Relocating families have much to evaluate. If they have live-in elder relatives they need to consider whether: the person wants to move, he/she could adjust to the new location, the available services, medical care and activities, the person could require a nursing home in the foreseeable future or the family could soon move again.

When moving at the request of an employer, here is some reasonable assistance to discuss.

  • resources to select a quality nursing home
  • information about financial and legal matters
  • paid or unpaid leave for an elder's care
  • referral hotline
  • part-time or flextime working arrangements


    If an assisted living facility will be required, visit each facility in person and ask questions such as: Is the staff or facility licensed and accredited? Will my family be included in developing a plan of care? Do supervisors oversee the quality of routine and emergency care patients are receiving? If so, how often? Who can our family call with questions or concerns? How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems? What are the financial terms for care and services?

    Assuring safe and comfortable care is a primary concern, especially when relocating a few countries and time zones away. Families should examine their own situations by realistically evaluating the assistance their relatives will require, as well as their financial situations. Request that travel for special circumstances be included in the relocation agreement in order to continue to oversee the elder's care. Although elder care facilities are increasing in the US, know that these are not readily found in foreign countries. It is not unusual to feel helpless and guilty to a certain extent when leaving a relative behind which is why it is so important to have reliable people in place to assure the elder's care and safety.

    According to the US Census Bureau, Americans who are currently 65 years or older will exceed 53 million by 2020. So it is safe to say that elder care is here to stay. It is far more cost effective for companies to put a plan in place so employees will realize a successful move, rather than to endure lost days, ineffectiveness and possibly loss of an employee. As with any other aspect of relocation, elder care issues require adequate information and preparation.


    To obtain a free brochure titled "How to Choose a Home Care Provider," send an 8.5x11 SASE to The National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Publications Department, 228 Seventh Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003 or call 202.547.7424.

    Family Caregiver Alliance http://www.caregiver.org/factsheets/out_of_home_care.html An Information Resource on Long-Term Care. National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. http://www.naela.com/naela/whatis.htm A variety of legal tools and techniques to meet the goals and objectives of the older client.

    National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.

    http://www.naela.com/naela/whatis.htm. A variety of legal tools and techniques to meet the goals and objectives of the older client.

    Transitions, Inc. http://www.asktransitions.com Light-hearted and fun site to educate and support those touched by the aging process. Assistance to individuals and employers available.


    Reprinted from Relocation Today, Vol. 6, No.3, 2004 by Beverly D. Roman, publisher, and published by BR Anchor Publishing. Wilmington, NC. Contact her at broman@branchor.com or +910.256.9598

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