Senior Caregiving During the COVID-19 Crisis

According to their most recent report, the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) found that as of 2020, more than 47 million Americans are providing unpaid adult care. That’s an increase of over 8 million caregivers since 2015, with nearly one in five people identifying as an adult caregiver.

Additionally, the AARP and NAC report shows that a greater number of caregivers of adults are providing care to multiple people, with 24% caring for two or more recipients, up from 18% in 2015. Plus, more family caregivers are having difficulty coordinating care with a spike to 26% of respondents in 2020, while 23% say caregiving has made their health worse and 45% have had at least one financial impact.

The AARP and NAC report notes that this data suggests many caregivers may be taking on this role without adequate and affordable services and supports in place. With all the challenges caregiving presents under normal circumstances, the COVID-19 pandemic has only accentuated the struggles caregivers normally shoulder.

Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that older adults are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, particularly people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility. From the quarantine orders and businesses closing to social distancing, caregivers becoming unavailable and navigating the process of reopening, the stress and fears surrounding caregiving are escalating.

Senior Caregiving During the COVID-19 Crisis

Since the AARP and NAC report data was gathered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, its researchers now think the numbers for economic and emotional strain would be even higher. “The impact on [caregiving] families now with COVID is a serious and heartbreaking issue,” Lynn Friss Feinberg, senior strategic policy advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute told Forbes. “The financial strain, emotional strain and physical health impacts we see as a result of caregiving have been exacerbated by COVID-19.”

We’ve seen firsthand the many challenges our members are facing as they struggle to provide care for their aging loved ones. Here are just a few recent requests from our members:

  • When hospice care banned visitation to his mother’s nursing home due to COVID-19, this member called looking for a new hospice facility that was still offering visitation. He explained that his mother has terminal cancer and he wanted to visit her right away. We were quickly able to find one independent hospice facility that was still allowing family visitation.
  • A member’s elderly mother lives alone and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wasn’t able to go out or have visitors. The member called looking for help finding local meal delivery programs for her mother to use temporarily during quarantine. We were able to provide four different meal delivery service options that met the member’s criteria and budget.
  • After his father was hospitalized due to contracting COVID-19, a member called looking for resources and guidance around bringing his father to their home once he was released. We were able to research and share information on quarantining a family member in the home, providers selling personal protective equipment, financial assistance and the local Area Agency on Aging.
  • A member’s sister is in a nursing home that had several confirmed cases of COVID-19 and she was looking for other senior living situations as soon as possible. We researched and provided options for several other facilities in the area that were suitable and had less or zero COVID-19 cases reported.

Senior Caregiving During the COVID-19 Crisis

Finding solutions for these increasingly challenging caregiving situations can be tough as employees are navigating how to provide care during these uncertain times, while still juggling all of their other personal and professional responsibilities. Now more than ever, employers offering Work-Life programs and Senior Caregiver Support programs with highly personalized senior care guidance to support employees is a key resource to help them navigate their caregiving responsibilities, decisions and challenges.

In fact, U.S. employers were already making caregiving benefits one of their top priorities even before the COVID-19 pandemic according to a survey by Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH). They found that 84% of employers believe that having a caregiving-friendly workplace is important for retaining and attracting talent, a 9% increase from 2017.

Furthermore, Candice Sherman, CEO of NEBGH told SHRM, “The challenges for employee caregivers have increased exponentially as a result of the risk for COVID-19 among older and vulnerable people, social distancing requirements, and 24/7 child care responsibilities. Employers are trying to increase support for caregiving employees by providing more backup help, flexible working hours and access to expert resources, and some are providing relief funds to help with expenses.”

While a lot is changing and caregiving is clearly becoming more complicated, employers can provide employee benefits that remain a consistent source of support that employees can rely on to remove some of the burdens they face, and in turn, improve productivity, engagement, loyalty and retention.

LifeCare’s senior support services are specifically designed to provide caregiving employees with expert guidance and resources during a time that can be confusing and challenging. If you’d like to learn about how we can help you implement some of these support programs, contact us or call us at 866-675-3751.