Long-Term Care:

Private Sector Elder Care Could Yield Multiple Benefits

HEHS-94-60: Published: Jan 31, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on private sector employees who provide elder care assistance, focusing on: (1) the extent to which the private sector assists its employees who care for the elderly; (2) whether the private sector is planning to change its elderly assistance practices; and (3) whether the private sector expects to increase its assistance to further support informal caregivers.

GAO found that: (1) about 2 million employed persons provide informal caregiving assistance to their elderly relatives and an additional 6 million employed persons have disabled parents or spouses that need assistance with everyday activities; (2) although informal caregivers represent about 9 percent of the present workforce, the number of employed caregivers is expected to grow as the population ages; (3) caregivers need employers to provide work schedule flexibility and information on the availability of community elder care services to resolve conflicts with work and family caregiving responsibilities; (4) companies often do not promote their flexible scheduling options to assist employed caregivers; (5) at least 23 million Americans work for medium and large companies that offer flexible scheduling options including flexible leave, alternative work schedules, and leave without pay; (6) companies could further support their caregiving employees if managers identified and actively supported the options for elder care assistance; (7) about 9 million people work for companies that provide information about long-term care services and caregiver support groups; (8) elder care assistance benefits assist caregivers by allowing them to balance work and family responsibilities, employers by reducing work disruption, turnover, and absenteeism, and the elderly by allowing them to remain in their own homes and communities; and (9) although employees' access to elder care assistance is expected to increase, variations by company and employee type could affect future growth.

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