September 11, 2017

Column: Adult day health offers help for the 'Sandwich Generation'

Over the next four decades, the United States will experience considerable growth in its elderly population. A recent Pew Research Center study found that in 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double the estimated population of 43.1 million in 2012. The increase is largely attributed to the aging baby boomer population, and it's expected to cost businesses $33 billion annually by 2050, according to a 2010 study by MetLife, as employee productivity is impacted by caring for aging parents.

Working caregivers

As we see our elderly population growing, we see the number of employees faced with caring for loved ones at home growing. Federal data cited by the American Association of Retired Persons show more than twenty percent of working adults are caring for someone in their home. These middle-aged adults, known colloquially as the "Sandwich Generation", are often caught between the demands of child rearing in addition to providing care to their aging parents and working a full time job.

Meanwhile, employers are often faced with employees who need to take time off, leave early or call in sick due to these demands. Many employees are not aware of all of the options that are available to them and those they care for.

One option is adult day care. These programs provide the assistance many employees need during work hours. Many programs offer full-day services that include: transportation; nursing care; meals, and social activities.

A typical day in adult day care includes pick up at the home address by qualified drivers and drop off at the adult day care center. Upon arrival, breakfast is served and nursing care, such as blood sugar monitoring, is provided. Typically, there are social activities such as card games and reading. Exercise programs are an important part of the day to ensure the physical activity needs are being met. Lunch and afternoon entertainment usually end the day. Most adult day care programs also offer assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing.

This option can be very cost effective for working families. Some health insurance plans cover the cost of adult day care. But if not, the daily rate is often more affordable than paying for private care in the home.

Knowing that loved ones are being cared for in a safe environment surrounded by healthcare professionals enables employees to regain peace of mind and be more productive at work. If you or your employee is a member of the "Sandwich Generation," know that there is help out there.

If you're a human resources manager, refer your employees to information on all aspects of caregiving, from balancing work and family responsibilities to long-distance caregiving and locating community services that will help. Start by calling your local Elder Services Program, which can assist elders, families, and caregivers in finding services and programs to manage a person's care needs.

Angela Polletta-Penny has 20 years of experience working for a variety of healthcare organizations, including adult day health programs. She currently works as the adult day care operational director at the Saint Francis Adult Day Health Program in Worcester, and is the regional marketing director for the Saint Francis parent company, Landmark Management Solutions. She lives in Worcester.

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