For this month in my ongoing series focusing on the employee benefits that people crave, I’ll continue to talk about the family-oriented benefits that individuals truly value. Last month, I touched on the benefits that are most commonly discussed: prenatal & newborn care.
This month, I’m going to be discussing the other family benefit that some companies are beginning to offer: elder care. As mentioned in my previous posts, the reality is that most families do not operate as they once did. Whereas it used to be possible to only have one “breadwinner” in an household, and one person to stay home, that’s not really a reality for the average family anymore. Between the rising number of both “two career households” and single parent households, there is the obvious growth in the need for care options not only for children, but for aging family members.
With advances in modern medicine, life expectancy has continued to increase. It’s a beautiful thing, but it’s not always a walk in the park. As our population lives longer, that also means that sometimes individuals are living longer with chronic illnesses and medical conditions. Companies are starting to have to come to terms with the fact that more of their employees are facing elder care responsibilities. According to this article on the Washington Post, “the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to nearly triple by 2050.”
Below are some of the benefit programs that some companies are starting to implement within that realm. It’s important that other companies start to join this trend, and begin making all family-care benefits a more standardized part of employee benefits packages.
Duke University has created the “Duke Family Support Program” and provide Elder Care Consultations. The University understands that the aging population will require help from their family. They hold elder care consultations to help their employees find the correct assistance and programs necessary to take care of their aging parent(s). Employees are provided with referrals and resources to the make the process as painless as possible.
The Duke Family Support Program was created specifically to help families source help for memory-related disorders in aging parents. The website for Duke Family Support offers information about services, frequently asked questions, events that may be helpful for family members to attend, and even information about support groups in the area.
Fannie Mae is another organization that is going above and beyond for their employees. They make it clear to their employees that they understand the challenges they are facing:
“We know that sometimes balancing work and home life is a challenge. So whether you’re planning a family, coping with life changes, or experiencing a variety of other circumstances, we’re ready to help. We offer a comprehensive range of benefits that help you manage your finances and personal life”
Fannie Mae offers dependent care flex spending accounts, vouchers for emergency dependent care, and an elder care advisor. They apparently even offer time and space for employees to skype into medical appointments with parents who don’t live close.
It’s wonderful to know that some companies are doing such an exemplary job at offering their employees elder care benefits. It’s important that this trend continues, and similar benefits become the norm.