Alzheimer’s and the Workplace: What Employers Should Know

January 25, 2016

Has your employment been affected by caregiving? If so, you are definitely not alone.

tweet:  I chose my Mom over my job, and I'm not alone.

A collaboration of the Alzheimer’s Association and Workplace Options has brought us an insightful poll. The poll shows that 15% of American workers are current or former caregivers for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Of that 15%, roughly half of those were not able to retain their employment while caring for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient. Workplace Options’ CEO Dean Debnam says of the report, “The impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia on the U.S. workforce is simply astounding. Caring for a loved one with dementia is an incredible responsibility, and that responsibility obviously has serious consequences on an individual’s ability to maintain employment and perform as a professional.”

The study builds on the findings of  The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s, a study released in 2010. Notable in the findings are indicators that caregiving affects a person’s job performance significantly. Those polled who worked while providing care reported the following effects:

  • 20 percent had work performance suffer to the point that they feared their job was on the line.
  • 26 percent changed their employment for less demanding positions.
  • 32 percent took a leave of absence.
  • 69 percent had to change their schedules, either by arriving late, working early, or taking time off.

“It is clear from these numbers that balancing a career and serving as a caregiver is extremely difficult and that more employees and employers are going to be faced with this challenge in the near future,” says Angela Geiger, Chief Strategy Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Statistics project a sharp increase in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, not to mention dementia. Current projections suggest that between 2012 and 2025 there will be a 30 percent increase in the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers in the United States. Geiger continues, “As Americans continue living longer and the prevalence of Alzheimer’s continues to increase, the number of unpaid caregivers in the workforce will also continue to increase. It’s a natural correlation and something that the nation and businesses need to seriously consider.”

Also affecting the workers of tomorrow will be added stress, both emotional and financial. The above mentioned poll also revealed that:

  • 69 percent of caregivers reported a strain on finances
  • 90 percent described their caregiving as emotionally stressful.

These statistics should be a “red flag” for business owners, says Debnam. Preparations made in the coming years will help caregivers, a growing number in the workforce, to cope with the toll of providing care. These preparations will “directly affect the bottom line” of businesses, and make a growing impact through the years.

If you are a caregiver for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, what would you like to see changed about your job so that you could better balance both work and home care?  Leave us a comment below and share your ideas.

Jason Sager

We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior who could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Fairfax Annandale, please call us at 703.750.6644 or email us. We work with most long term care insurance companies as well as Veterans Affairs, and Workers' Compensation.

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