UW-Extension survey sheds light on numbers, needs of employed family caregivers

Rosalyn Carter said it best: “There are four kinds of people in the world—those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.

Beginning in 2011, 10,000 residents will turn age 65 every day for the next 20 years across the U.S. Locally, the number of people either providing care or needing care will increase significantly.

Caregiving is an important topic for families because family members provide more than 80 percent of all care in the U.S. And around 64 percent of family caregivers are also employed outside the home.

To respond to the concerns of employed family caregivers, UW-Extension family living educators have developed the “Employed Family Caregiver Survey” with the goal of providing resources and information to both employees and their employers.

The survey is an effective way to discover the needs of an increasing number of employees who balance family, work and caregiving responsibilities every day. One of the survey’s goals is to help people be able to identify themselves as caregivers. Studies show that people don’t always realize that they’ve taken on a caregiving role, says Faye Malek, Manitowoc County UW-Extension family living educator. Family members often see caregiving responsibilities as simply part of their job as a conscientious daughter, son or spouse.

“Because there are physical, emotional and financial impacts connected with caregiving, workers who identify themselves as caregivers through the survey questions can learn about support groups, education and a greater connectedness to local resources–which can help both caregivers and those in their care,” says Malek.

The “Employed Family Caregiver Survey” also highlights caregivers’ needs. For example, survey participants said they needed more legal and financial information, a better understanding of employer benefits, help with housing options, stress management techniques and skills for handling difficult conversations.

Employed caregivers cited articles in company newsletters, lunchtime presentations, on-site support groups and fact sheets as good ways for them to get needed information.

Using the “Employed Family Caregiver Survey” in the workplace has also been an effective resource for employers. Employers receive an online summary of the survey results, alerting them to potential workplace concerns. “Being able to identify and address employees’ needs ultimately has a positive effect on the bottom line,” says Malek.

You can find the “Employed Family Caregiver Survey” online at https://www.extension.org/pages/Employed_Family_Caregiver_Survey.

The national eXtension Family Cargiving website has additional information for caregivers at http://www.extension.org/family+caregiving.

For more information about the survey or other caregiving topics, contact your local UW-Extension office (http://yourcountyextension.org).

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